ROBERTO SIERRA (b.1953): Symphony No. 3 “La Salsa”, Borikén, El Baile, Beyond the Silence of Sorrow for Soprano and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 02R009
Description: Colorful, instantly accessible, tonal works in the distinguished Puerto Rican composer's mature style. The symphony is a genuinely symphonic four-movement structure, full of lively, dancing Latin rhythms. The first movement consists of ebullient salsa music, and in isolation might sound too 'light' for symphonic use, despite its catchy attractiveness, but it is organised in sonata form and works as an appropriate curtain-raiser. This is followed by an unmistakable symphonic slow movement, a mysterious, darkly tropical piece in habanera rhythm. The third movement is effectively a scherzo with a neoclassical touch, its material based on nineteenth-century Cuban danzas. The finale returns to the festival atmosphere of the opening, prominently featuring bongos, traditional Caribbean dance rhythms and exuberantly colorful orchestration. Borikén - the original name of Puerto Rico - is a fantastically inventive chaconne, rich in orchestral texture, that overlays the ground bass of the traditional Spanish baroque form with a tumultuous assemblage of popular, folkloric and indigenous material. The result is as inventive a set of variations as one could wish for, immensely appealing but with a serious cultural undertone. El Baile - the dance - is a variation-fantasia on the (well-disguised) BACH motif, metrically insistent and featuring Afro-Caribbean percussion and rhythms. The orchestral song cycle sets six texts by Native American poet N. Scott Momaday in lyrical, delicately orchestrated reflections on 'cultures and peoples ... that preceded us, some forgotten and some in a fragile state of existence'. Here Sierra's idiom is a more universally neo-romantic one with folk inflections but less specific 'local color' than the other works here. Written and sung in English; no texts. Martha Guth (soprano), Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra; Maximiano Valdés.