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Tenochtitlan 1325

Release Date: 08/07/2012 
Label:  Ionian   Catalog #: 5637987258   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Orlando Otey
Performer:  Orlando Otey
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

OTEY Fantasía Mexicána. Sonata Adelita . Prelude and Toccata Alacrán . Sonata Tenochtitlán. Arabésque. Seis Pequeños Estudios. Para Diáne Orlando Otey (pn) IONIAN PRODUCTIONS (no number) (65:10)

Pianist/composer Orlando Otey, dubbed in his youth “The Chopin of Mexico,” Read more clearly deserved the sobriquet, as his compositions are often Chopinesque in character, harmony, and figuration. Another prominent influence is Mexican folk music. One might think they would make strange bedfellows, but perhaps surprisingly, this unusual pastiche produces attractive results. A third thread—jazz—rounds out the triumvirate that, added to Otey’s own “voice,” makes his music so distinctive. The Fantasia Mexicana capitalizes on thematic material typical of Mexico’s exuberant folk music and embroiders it with surging arpeggios, powerfully rendered by Otey’s masterful technique. Its infectious dance rhythms, charming lyrical interludes, and joyous atmosphere are irresistible. Sonata Adelita 1982 contains obvious references to Chopin, especially the running left hand figures, almost identical to those of Chopin’s Third Prelude, op. 28. “Jazzy” tonalities, superficially at odds with the Chopinesque ambiance of the introduction, underpin the quieter sections (the second theme?), but don’t engender any harmonic “seasickness.” The Andante con moto is a playful second movement marked by occasional Bach-like passages recalling that composer’s counterpoint, sequences, and ornamental flourishes. Some “advanced” harmonies coexist with the more historically familiar ones to “spice things up.” The concluding Allegro scherzando ’s relentless ostinato propels what’s essentially a sarcastic moto perpetuo . A “prayerful” section provides calming repose, followed by a Chopinesque transition to the first material’s recapitulation. I didn’t hear Chopin’s voice in the beginning of the piece, but once it appears it persists, hovering over the concluding measures and emphatically declaring itself in the concluding “locked hands” passagework. The predominantly peaceful mood of the Preludio doesn’t anticipate the rhythmic intensity and unrestrained vitality of the ensuing Toccata , in which I could hear a stylistic connection to the Sonata Adelita 1982. El Mar de Galilea ’s simplicity (an approach perhaps chosen for its hymnal suggestiveness) eventually evolves into a beautiful homage to Chopin’s style, replete with trills, parallel up and down sweeps across the keyboard, and rapidly cascading scales. Sonata Tenochtitlán 1948 is an ambitious work, in which thematic linkages connect the individual movements; for example, the strongly accented two note phrases heard in the two central movements. To these ears, the concluding Presto molto brioso unmistakably draws on Chopin’s “wind over the grave” finale to his Funeral Sonata : the churning agitation and restless figurations of Otey’s first movement Allegro non troppo also point in the same direction. Additionally, I should mention that Alex Otey (Orlando’s son) pointed out the fourth movement’s quotation of a Mexican folk song, Coconito , which is stirringly rendered in bass octaves. The Arabésque plays on the rocking, gentle motion of a typical barcarolle without making any overt references to Chopin’s masterpiece and ends with a markedly Spanish flourish. The title, and a certain impressionism, hint at Debussy. The Seis Pequeños Estudios are in a sense “updated” versions of Chopin’s famous set: within the six Estudios may be heard allusions to the Revolutionary and Ocean Etudes , reminiscences of some of the darker Preludes, a double-note study, a take-off of the Black Key Etude , an almost exact quotation of the theme from the Fantasy and broadly applied ringing, “heroic” romantic figures as well as an occasional whiff of the salon. Finally, Para Diáne ’s beguilingly limpid melody ends the recital.

Orlando Otey played the piano with panache and considerable skill, reveling in music’s capacity for passionate extroversion as well as lyrical reflection. His full tone (which nonetheless doesn’t strike me as forced) is especially evocative in tender moments but doesn’t desert him in even the most florid or dramatic rhetorical passages. His compositions reflect a genuine talent, curious about modern trends (but stopping short of atonality) and capable of fashioning diverse influences into a convincing artistic statement.

FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper
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Works on This Recording

Fantasía Mexicána, for piano by Orlando Otey
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1939 
Length: 4 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Adelita, sonata for piano by Orlando Otey
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1982 
Length: 17 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Alacrán, prelude and toccata for piano by Orlando Otey
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1956 
Length: 6 Minutes 8 Secs. 
El Mar de Galilea, for piano by Orlando Otey
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1939 
Length: 5 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Tenochtitlán, sonata for piano by Orlando Otey
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1948 
Length: 14 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Arabésque, for piano [1950] by Orlando Otey
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1950 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Seis Pequeños Estudios, for piano by Orlando Otey
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1938 
Length: 10 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Para Diáne, nocturne for piano by Orlando Otey
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1990 
Length: 2 Minutes 50 Secs. 

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