Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September 2014 - Featured Playlist: Fiery Fiestas and Summer Siestas

Each month, Naxos Music Library will present a themed playlist for our subscribers to enjoy. We know that a database of nearly 1.5 million tracks can be a bit daunting, so we'd like to highlight some of the amazing music that is available to you. Let it kickstart discovery!

This month, our theme is Fiery Fiestas and Summer Siestas. This playlist features pieces by composers from around the Spanish-speaking world and music boasting that certain unmistakeably Latin flair. Get up and dance, or dodge the last of the summer sun with a nap in the shade, and revel in this life-filled set of works.

To hear the playlist, access NML as usual, go to the Playlists section, and select the Playlist of the Month folder under the Naxos Music Library Playlists tab. If you are on your institution's premises, you may also be able to access it if you CLICK HERE.

1.  Alberto Ginastera - Estancia, Op. 8, Scene 5: Danza Final - Malambo -- Born and raised in Argentina, Ginastera found much of his inspiration from his country's legendary gauchos. He was all of 25 years old when he completed his ballet Estancia in 1941, and this Malambo contains every last bit of that youthful energy. Play this one loud!

2.  Arturo Márquez - Danzón No. 2 -- Márquez was born in Mexico but emigrated to Southern California as a child. His work was popular in Latin America, but it was his series of Danzónes that brought him wider acclaim. Danzón No. 2 was debuted in Mexico City in 1994 and is an explosive work for orchestra that also takes the time to feature solos from several instruments.

3.  José Pablo Moncayo - Huapango -- Premiered in 1941, Huapango is Moncayo's best-known work, a brilliantly colorful mariachi dance for orchestra. His death in 1958, at 46 years of age, is considered to mark the end of the Mexican nationalist movement in classical music, one shared with Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas.

4. Osvaldo Golijov - St Mark Passion: XIX. Agonía -- Golijov, an Argentinian of Jewish descent, was initially hesitant to undertake a commission for a Passion setting, but eventually he accepted the job. The crowd at the premiere in 2000 was shocked by its radical departure from tradition, but ultimately gave it a 25-minute standing ovation. Called "the first indisputably great composition of the 21st century" by The Boston Globe, it incorporates a number of Latin musical styles and vocal techniques to stunning effect.

5. Narciso Saúl - Suite for Harp and Guitar: II. Como Agua -- Saúl is a guitarist and professor who has specialized in the origins of Argentinian folk music. He also performs and composes for a popular tango group. This lovely, mesmerizing piece is performed by the harp/guitar duo to whom it was dedicated.

 6. Enrique Granados - Capricho Español -- Granados is probably best known for his piano compositions, of which Capricho Español is quite representative. He had reached the pinnacle of his career when, in 1916, upon returning to Spain from appearances in the U.S., his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Granados, who was terrified of water, perished when he leapt from safety in an attempt to rescue his drowning wife.
7. Ástor Piazzolla - Aconcagua: I. Allegro marcato -- Considering abandoning the tango for classical composition, Piazzolla was encouraged by Nadia Boulanger to stay with it. Inspired once more, he went on to be a major player in nuevo tango, which incorporated greater harmonic complexity and elements of jazz and classical music. His Concerto for Bandoneón, String Orchestra, and Percussion, nicknamed "Aconcagua", is an emotional work composed in 1979, during one of the most creatively exciting periods of his life.
8. Joaquín Turina - Danzas fantásticas, Op. 22: I. Exaltación -- Turina was born in Seville but moved to Paris as a young man, where he befriended countryman Manuel de Falla and come to know Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. Danzas fantásticas, his most famous work, was composed in Madrid in 1919 and dedicated to his wife, Obdulia.

9. Emmanuel Chabrier - España -- Chabrier may be French, but his best-known work, composed in the dance style called jota, was inspired by a visit to Spain. While Chabrier himself described it as "a piece in F and nothing more", it was heralded by Mahler as "the start of modern music" and de Falla as a more genuine version of the jota than he'd heard from any Spanish composer.

10. Silvestre Revueltas - 3 Piezas: II. Lentamente -- Born on the final day of the 1800s, Revueltas is known as one of the primary figures in the Mexican nationalist movement of the early 20th century. He is remembered mostly for his orchestral work Sensemayá and his film scores, but it's hard to resist his 3 Piezas for violin and piano. The second movement, featured here, is achingly gorgeous.
11. Gabriela Ortiz - Concierto Candela: II. Candela Nocturno -- Ortiz is a contemporary composer who combines Mexican folk music and jazz elements with both avant garde and more accessible classical styles. Her Concierto Candela, for percussion and orchestra, is a colorful, mystical work that shows her to be a current composer to watch.

12. Joaquín Rodrigo - Toccata -- Rodrigo, nearly blind from the age of three, is best known for his compositions for guitar, yet he did not play the instrument himself, opting to compose in Braille for an assistant to transcribe. While his most famous work is the Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra, he left much for the solo guitarist, including the Toccata featured here. His life spanned nearly the entire 20th century, and over that time he was awarded many of the highest accolades Spain had to offer to civilians.

We hope you enjoy digging into this playlist, and that you find it to be a springboard to discovering new favorites that will stick with you for much time to come. Happy listening!

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