MEXICAN SALON MUSIC • Jorge Federico Osorio (pn) • ÇEDILLE CDR 132 (75:13)
Over the years, the pianist Jorge Federico Osorio has garnered extraordinary praise in this journal. In Fanfare 27:4, Susan Kagan found his playing to be “exceptional”; in 27:6, Patrick Meanor observed that he is “one of the major pianists of the day”; in 29:4, Colin Anderson declared him “the ideal musician.” I hereby second those comments, and I have yet to hear an Osorio performance that does not reflectRead more complete mastery and the kind of insight, frankness, and purity that elude all but a very select group of musicians. Another quality that I have always appreciated in Osorio’s artistry is his willingness to often venture off the beaten path, as in his recent recordings of Manuel Ponce’s terrific—and rarely played—music. Osorio’s interest in wrongly neglected repertoire continues on his most recent recording, which explores salon music written around the beginning of the last century by four Mexican composers: Manuel Ponce, Ricardo Castro, Felipe Villanueva, and José Rolón.
To cut right to the chase, if you have ever doubted that Konstantin Stanislavski’s oft-quoted aphorism that “there are no small parts, only small actors” applies with equal force to musicians, I would strongly suggest that you give this recording a listen. To be clear, I do not mean to suggest that the works included here are trifles. They are not, and I suspect that even the purists will be impressed and moved by many of these gentle and quirky works—the four Ponce works, the Castro Mazurka and Barcarolle, and the half-dozen or so Villanueva and Castro waltzes deserve to be singled out. That said, like Tchaikovsky’s salon music, much of this repertoire consists of what one might call guilty pleasures, and in lesser hands I am pretty sure that most if not all these works would indeed sound like trifles. Put another way, in Osorio’s seasoned hands this sentimental music sounds better than it actually is, and, at least in my book, that is the real mark of a true artist.
I have never heard a Çedille recording that deserved less than a perfect score in the sound engineering department, and this one is no exception.
In sum, a delightful recording that confirms Osorio’s outstanding artistry.