Daniel Blanch / Jacek Kaspszyk / Sinfonia Varsovia

Carlos Suriñach: Concertos for Piano & Orchestra

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This trio of concertos offers a good introduction to the music of a composer whose eclectic style temporarily knocked him out of fashion and is now contributing to his comeback. Born in Spain's Catalonia region (where the "n" in his name is still often given a tilde), he was trained in Germany, soaked up a good deal of Stravinsky's neo-classic style, and finally settled in the U.S. after World War II, where choreographers found his colorful, rhythmically oriented style much to their liking. He has been compared with Aram Khachaturian, and in these works from between 1954 and 1973 Shostakovich could have been a model as well -- the outer movements are filled with motor rhythms and prominent percussion parts crossing swords with the piano. The percussion writing reaches its highest pitch in the Concerto for piano, strings, and cymbals of 1956, an immensely attractive work that calls for several different sets of cymbals and a variety of playing techniques, superimposing the effect of later avant-garde percussion music onto a brisk neo-classic framework. Poland's Sinfonia Varsovia may give the music an unusual Eastern flavor, but the Spanish and flamenco influences present in some of his music are more muted here, although never entirely absent; the nocturnal lyricism of the slow movements is Iberian to the core. Pianist Daniel Blanch, who comes from Surinach's home city of Barcelona, is an effective advocate for his music, and his partnership with Polish violinist Kalina Macuta in the Doppio Concertino for violin, piano, and chamber ensemble (1954) is a long-standing one. The booklet notes appear in Catalan, Spanish, and rather fractured English (Surinach's devotion to "conduction" for part of his career sounds painful). Well worth the time of anyone interested in the later manifestations of neo-classicism.

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