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21st Century Classics - Balada: Cello Concerto No 2, Etc


Release Date: 09/23/2003 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557049   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Leonardo Balada
Performer:  Michael SanderlingNicolas CourtinPhilippe RayerJean-François Fourichon,   ... 
Conductor:  Colman Pearce
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony OrchestraVersailles Guitar Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

I had the misfortune to first encounter Leonardo Balada in the form of his very disagreeable Steel Symphony, an agglomeration of avant-garde orchestral clichés that does his compositional range scant justice. Since then he has become interested in combining his obvious gift for making fascinating sounds with folk and popular music of various kinds, resulting in a sort of "George Crumb writ large" style that can be very appealing. Such is the case with the Cello Concerto No. 2, subtitled "New Orleans" and inspired by that city's jazz and African American musical heritage. Indeed, the piece would have made an excellent coupling for Stephen Hartke's similarly oriented Clarinet Concerto, also recently released by Read more Naxos. Michael Sanderling plays a mean cello: the astonishing range of sounds that Balada requires holds no terrors for him, and he manages to preserve a highly attractive tone besides.


Actually, as the Concerto for Four Guitars and Orchestra proves, Balada's avant-garde period wasn't a total waste. This is an extremely enjoyable work, a tour de force by any measure and one of the most successful guitar-and-orchestra essays that I have ever heard. While not melodic in the conventional sense, the level of dissonance never approaches the threshold of pain, and I suspect that most listeners will simply be mesmerized by the fascinating textures that Balada creates by means of obstinate repetition of simple rhythmic and tonal fragments. The evocative middle movement, featuring pearly-toned harmonics from the soloists, will linger in your memory well past the work's end. Kudos to the Versailles Guitar Quartet (I never knew that Louis XIV had one!) for playing of admirable concentration and intensity.


Celebració for Orchestra isn't just your typical pot-boiler--it's an arresting fantasia based on traditional Catalan melodies. The inclusion of an important part for harpsichord was a particularly good idea. The Passacaglia for Orchestra gradually deconstructs the traditional Baroque form until it becomes a popular Spanish passacalle. Only the rather abrupt ending leaves a vague feeling of dissatisfaction, though there's plenty of enjoyment along the way. Coleman Pearce leads totally committed performances of all four works, and the playing of the Barcelona Symphony, et al. leaves no textural stone unturned no matter how unusual the noises they are called upon to make. Fine sonics round out a very effective tribute to a composer of wide reach and real aural imagination. Balada certainly deserves the attention that Naxos has been giving him. Perhaps I should go back and try that Steel Symphony again!
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Cello no 2 "New Orleans" by Leonardo Balada
Performer:  Michael Sanderling (Cello)
Conductor:  Colman Pearce
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  L'Auditori, Barcelona, Spain 
Length: 22 Minutes 55 Secs. 
2.
Concerto for 4 Guitars and Orchestra by Leonardo Balada
Performer:  Nicolas Courtin (Guitar), Philippe Rayer (Guitar), Jean-François Fourichon (Guitar),
Michel Grizard (Guitar)
Conductor:  Colman Pearce
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony Orchestra,  Versailles Guitar Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USA 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  L'Auditori, Barcelona, Spain 
Length: 21 Minutes 3 Secs. 
3.
Celebració by Leonardo Balada
Conductor:  Colman Pearce
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; USA 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  L'Auditori, Barcelona, Spain 
Length: 13 Minutes 31 Secs. 
4.
Passacaglia for Orchestra by Leonardo Balada
Conductor:  Colman Pearce
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; USA 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  L'Auditori, Barcelona, Spain 
Length: 10 Minutes 39 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Cello Concerto No. 2, "New Orleans": I. Lament
Cello Concerto No. 2, "New Orleans": II. Swinging
Concerto for 4 Guitars: I. -
Concerto for 4 Guitars: II. -
Concerto for 4 Guitars: III. -
Celebration: Celebracio
Passacaglia

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