Make no mistake, Carlos Chávez’s Piano Concerto is a major work. Symphonic in length and very generous in content, it poses quite a challenge to the soloist, with hyperactive allegros surrounding an intimate and evocatively scored central Molto lento. Jorge Federico Osorio has no peer in this repertoire, at least on disc. He plays the work with unflagging energy and, where called for, sensitivity, and he’s very capably accompanied by Carlos Prieto and the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra. This is an important addition to the Chávez discography, and it’s very well engineered.
The couplings make an attractive series of encores. Both Chávez’s Meditación and Moncayo’s Muros Verdes are lovely, lyrical interludes, but Samuel Zyman’s Variations on an Original Theme is a major work more than a quarter-hour long. It’s not easy listening. The music is thorny and at times highly dissonant, but there’s also no question that the work has great integrity, a wide expressive range, and an impressive level of disciplined craftsmanship, nor is it particularly difficult to follow. Osorio, as in the concerto, plays all three solo works very well indeed, and as you’re not likely to find this repertoire so convincingly done anywhere else, this disc earns an enthusiastic recommendation.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
CHÁVEZ Piano Concerto 1. Meditación. MONCAYO Muros Verdes. ZYMAN Variations on an Original Theme • Jorge Federico Osorio (pn); Carlos Miguel Pieto, cond; 1 Natl SO of Mexico 1 • ÇEDILLE 90000140 (64:50)
The big work here is the 1938 Piano Concerto of the major Mexican composer Carlos Chávez. It is literally big; written for a large and colorful orchestra and clocking in, for this performance, at over 36 minutes. It belongs, broadly, in the mid-20th-century camp of post-romantic piano concertos, most famously exemplified by Prokofiev, but with important distinctions. The bulkiness of the work is largely due to the lumbering first movement, which is longer than the other two movements combined. It feels more like a fantasy than a traditional sonata- allegro form, and is filled with intriguing rhythms and folkloric melodic structures. The bold slow movement and the propulsive finale are imaginative commentaries on the materials contained in the first movement. Interestingly, the concerto opens and closes with subtle, mysterious motifs, almost as a riposte to the traditional, demonstrative bookends in the proto-typical 19th-century concerto format. It is an excellent, and clearly underappreciated, addition to the repertoire, delightfully exotic, and fortunately it receives a crisp and concentrated performance by these forces.
The program includes a postlude of solo piano music by Chávez and two of his younger compatriots. The Chaváz piece is a lovely youthful composition, written when he was 19, and owes as much to the influence of Grieg as it does to any New World sources. José Pablo Moncayo, a student of Chávez, contributes a beautiful and rather impressionistic work. Finally, there is the variation set by Samuel Zyman, a contemporary Mexican composer. This dark, even bleak, work is certainly the most harmonically advanced music on the CD, but makes for a somewhat jarring break from the more mellifluous material represented by Chávez and Moncayo. But the reason to acquire this recording is for the brilliant Chávez concerto, which has not been recorded for years.
FANFARE: Peter Burwasser