Giancarlo Guerrero / Nashville Symphony

Roberto Sierra: Sinfonía No. 4; Fandangos; Carnaval

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Vibrant and virtuosic, the orchestral works of Roberto Sierra have proved to be some of the most accessible of the early 21st century, and his thought-provoking treatment of symphonic form and traditional dances have revealed him to be one of the most original of contemporary composers. The Sinfonía No. 4 (2008-2009), the featured work on this 2014 Naxos release by Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony, plays off the standard four-movement symphonic form, but it is altered in unexpected ways, because the usual functions of the symphony are blurred through constant development and the simultaneous layering of fast and slow music. The Fandangos (2000), one of Sierra's most successful pieces, is a fantasy based in part on fandangos by Soler and Boccherini, as well as on Sierra's own ideas, and he develops the music through building layers and elaborating small motives in a regenerative process. Carnaval (2007) is a suite of grotesque character studies, and the movements' titles -- Gargoyles, Sphinxes, Unicorns, Dragons, and The Phoenix -- hint at the wildly fantastic character of the music. At times, Sierra ventures into some strange and menacing passages, but overall his style is easy to understand, and his focused tonality and highly melodic themes should invite many listeners looking for something appealing and entertaining.

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