Asturias Symphony Orchestra / Maximiano Valdes

Jesús Rueda: Symphony No. 3; Viaje imaginario

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Jesús Rueda is one of the most energetic and productive Spanish composers to emerge in the late 20th century. This Naxos CD brings together two of his works, his 2007 Symphony No. 3 "Luz," and a 1998 tone poem, Viaje imaginario (Imaginary journey). The symphony, a ferociously energetic work, lasts over 40 minutes and is in five movements with the titles "Fire," "Water," "Earth," "Air," and "Towards the Light." Its first three movements have such a turbulent, relentless drive that the repose of the fourth comes as a huge relief. The fifth movement begins with quiet and builds in volume and intensity without ever quite producing the catharsis that the previous movements have set the listener up to expect. Rueda is clearly an exceptionally inventive composer; at every moment his fertile imagination is evident in the creative musical development and the orchestration. In the symphony in particular, though, the truly impressive sound and fury lack the musical substance to be fully successful. It's easy to get caught up in the visceral charge that he generates, and repeated listening reveals ever new fascinating details, but there is almost always so much going on with so little clarity about where it is going that not much musical material sticks in the memory. Imaginary Journey, written in memory of the composer's teacher, Francisco Guerrero, is more persuasive because it is more focused in tone and direction. It is a dark work, a heartfelt lament, and Rueda conveys the desolation of loss with clarity and power. Maximiano Valdés and Asturias Symphony Orchestra are up to the challenge of Rueda's demanding scores, delivering committed and fully invested performances.

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