Notes and Editorial Reviews
Pola Baytelman's pianistic prowess and interpretive mastery have markedly evolved in the years since her Schumann recital for Centaur. She not only harbors a natural stylistic affinity for the works that make up this Latin American piano music survey, but also shapes them with passionate dynamism and excellent technical control. Her virile Villa-Lobos interpretations display effortlessly varied repeated chords and single notes, while spiky and acerbic works like Alfonso Letelier Llona's Four Pieces Op. 33 and Ileana Perez-Velázquez's Encantamiento benefit from the pianist's incisive articulation and rhythmic élan. Her dulcet and differentiated tone ideally suits the wistful lyricism characterizing a selection from Humberto
Allende's Doce Tonadas de carácter popula chileno and the Chopinesque Doloras by Alfonso Leng. The recital closes with Ginastera's Op. 15 Suite de danzas criollas, an idiomatic performance that could use slightly more energy and bravura along the lines of Michiko Tsuda on Cypres and Alberto Portugheis on ASV. In all, this superbly engineered, imaginatively curated collection is well worth owning.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
This is an ingratiating program that brings together composers from throughout Latin American, though with an emphasis on Chilean composers, the nationality of the pianist. Heitor Villa Lobos is the most renowned composer on the disc, and these excerpts from his
show why. This is the most full-throated and virtuosic music on the program, exploiting the keyboard’s sonority with surging textures. The Prelude, on the other hand, plumbs expressive depths with its chaconne structure, which suggests a noble cortege.
Alfonso Letelier (1912–1994) wrote his Cuatro piezas in 1964–65, and they have a Hindemithian sound. Lleana Pérez-Velasquez (b. 1964), a Cuban based at Williams College, is the only living composer on the program. Her 2002
is a propulsive and dark work. Though quite contemporary in sound, I feel a light shadow of Gottschalk over it. It never works up to a grand climax, but in a way that aids its sense of somber mystery.
One feels the strong influence of Chopin in a couple of cases. It’s most direct in Alfonso Leng’s
(1901, 1913–14). Leng (1884–1974) was a dentist by profession, but is one of the founding fathers of Chilean concert music, and these pieces have an easy grace and delicacy that could almost place them at the middle of the 19th century, were there not a few more impressionistic moments. Pedro Humberto Allende (1885–1959) is another Chilean, and his
are all binary songs without words, reflecting the spirit of one of the nation’s core popular musical traditions, though without quoting any literal sources. They are tonally more adventurous, with tinges of polytonality. Alberto Ginastera is the other “name” on the program, and his 1946 (rev. 1956)
Suite de dansas criollas
consists of five quick sketches from Argentine folk sources. They have nice harmonic twists in their miniature forms, as well as catchy rhythms.
Pola Baytelman plays fluently, and the recorded sound is clear and close. She’s an admirable advocate for this music. Most of it does not push toward extremes of expression or invention, but does have suave musicality—a quality that I feel is not just innate to the works, but also due to her sensitive interpretations.
-- FANFARE: Robert Carl
Works on This Recording
Encantamiento by Ileana Pérez Velazquez
Pola Baytelman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Length: 6 Minutes 35 Secs.
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