Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mi Alma Mexicana

Sony Classical
Alondra de la Parra
Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas
Mi Alma Mexicana | My Mexican Soul

Copies of this CD at Alondra de la Parra's recent Dolores Park concert sold out before intermission, but I have since had a chance to enjoy hearing it. It's a 2 CD sampler of orchestral works from 13 Mexican composers, from the late 19th century to the 1st decade of the 21st century. 3 young instrumental soloists are also featured. The CD has a sense of discovery about it. The pieces may be largely unfamiliar, but they are all accessible, encompassing romantic, jazz, Latin & modern idioms. I was amused to find that a tune I associate with cartoon characters swinging on trapezes is actually a waltz called Sobre las Olas by Juventino Rosas.

Maestra de la Parra communicates a consistently bright & optimistic mood. She also nicely avoids overplaying things. Even the discordant & atavistic Sensemayá by Silvestre Revueltas sounds a bit ebullient. The piece I found myself cueing up most often was the Danzón No. 2 by Arturo Márquez, with its irresistible, slinky dance theme, obsessively repeated. I especially like the gliding way the strings play the theme when they finally get hold of it halfway though the piece.

The orchestral playing is proficient, clean & even. Violinist Daniel Andai, in the romantic Melodía para Violín y Orquesta by Gustavo E. Campa, has a reedy & level sound that is pleasingly old-fashioned. Guitarist Pablo Sáinz plays very precisely in the languid concerto by Manuel M. Ponce, the most substantial work on the CD. Jazz pianist Alex Brown sounds very laid-back in the slow movement of Concierto para Piano Improvisado y Orquesta by Eugenio Toussaint

In the CD booklet, the compilator's notes on the repertoire are rambling but necessary. Without them I would not have known what to make of the referee whistle which figures prominently in the last piece. The packaging & CD labels are colorful & attractive & place Maestra del al Parra front & center, where I suppose she belongs. On the basis of half a concert & this CD, I hope we have her back in San Francisco soon.


Civic Center said...

So glad go read there's another Alondra groupie, and I'm even going to buy the CD because I have a gift certificate at the San Francisco Symphony.

Axel Feldheim said...

Having missed her appearances at Davies Hall, I have admittedly little to go on, but she does cut an attractive musical figure on several fronts. I am sure publicists like her potential for cross-over appeal. I hope you enjoy the CD. I have it on my iPod now, & it has been an anodyne for some long & tedious Muni rides.