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Aurelio De La Vega: Orchestral Works / Oberg, Polish National RSO

Release Date: 09/29/2009 
Label:  North/South Recordings   Catalog #: 1051   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Aurelio de la Vega
Conductor:  David ObergMax Lifchitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony OrchestraNorth/South Consonance
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

DE LA VEGA Elegy 1. Variación del Recuerdo. 1 Adiós. 1 Tropimapal 2 1 David Oberg, cond; Polish NRSO; 2 Max Lifchitz, cond; North/South Consonance Ens NORTH/SOUTH N/S R 1051 (55:02)

Cuban-born Aurelio Read more de la Vega (b. 1925) has resided for most of his life in the U.S. He has lectured prodigiously both here and in Latin America, and his CV is so filled with honors and commissions that I am surprised I have not heard of him before (though that is neither here nor there). He is a clear candidate to be taken up by Max Lifchitz’s North/South Consonance Ensemble, a group that specializes in programming new music from the United States and South America. De la Vega’s music has turned up on some of their compilation discs over the last 15 years, and a 2003 CD of his piano music is available (played by the Cuban-American pianist Martha Marchena). This new issue would appear to be the first devoted exclusively to his orchestral music.

The music on this disc spans 45 years, from the Elegy for strings of 1954 to the Variations of Remembrance , also for strings, of 1999. Despite that gulf, the two works have a stylistic similarity. Both are written from a nationalist perspective, whether it be in the lilting hint of dance rhythms in the Variations , or the peculiarly Latin emotive landscape of the heartfelt Elegy. The composer’s string writing is assured in these two tonal works.

Adiós (1977) for full orchestra dwells less in the area of nostalgia, revealing more modernist tendencies. It was composed for Zubin Mehta in his farewell season as maestro of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. References are made to the music Mehta frequently conducted there—Beethoven, Strauss, Bruckner, and Mahler—although quotations tend to be harmonically distorted and swamped by dazzling orchestral sonorities. Essentially, this 18-minute “farewell” is a kaleidoscopic concerto for orchestra.

Tropimapal (1983) for chamber ensemble is even more experimental, alternating notated passages with aleatoric sections that function as solo cadenzas. Cuban rhythms are a memorable feature, notably when the solo percussionist moves to the bongos. In such a stop-start scheme, it is crucial that the listener feels an inevitable rightness about the way juxtaposed segments work in the overall structure. I don’t know the music well (due to deadline pressures) but I continue to find that inevitability missing. Parts of Tropimapal thrill and beguile, but others hang fire. The same is true of Adiós , which doesn’t gel as a whole.

Both orchestras show commitment and flair under their sympathetic, experienced conductors. The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, well known as a recording band, is apparently dubbed the “Philadelphia” of Poland. With all due respect, I wouldn’t mind hearing the strings of the Philadelphia of Philadelphia essay de la Vega’s Elegy and Variations . Similarly, the polish that the Los Angeles Philharmonic undoubtedly brought to the premiere of Adiós would have helped that work to make an even greater impact.

Good sound and notes. This release is recommended to interested parties.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Elegía by Aurelio de la Vega
Conductor:  David Oberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 9 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Beata Jankowska.
Editor: Mark Bunce. 
Tropimapal by Aurelio de la Vega
Conductor:  Max Lifchitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  North/South Consonance
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 18 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Max Schubel.
Editor: Max Schubel. 
Variación del Recuerdo by Aurelio de la Vega
Conductor:  David Oberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 7 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Beata Jankowska.
Editor: Mark Bunce. 
Adiós by Aurelio de la Vega
Conductor:  David Oberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 18 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Beata Jankowska.
Editor: Mark Bunce. 

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