Trío Arbós

Roberto Sierra: Piano Trios

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Roberto Sierra's music joins Eastern European modernism, classical forms, and the rhythms of his native Puerto Rico in a fresh synthesis that draws on the rhythmic vitality of the music of the Americas without aping specific traditions. These immensely enjoyable chamber works offer a good place to start with the music of this popular contemporary composer. The three piano trios, spanning a 17-year period, experiment increasingly with tonality and timbre but are cut from basically the same cloth, with close motivic work destabilizing the Latin rhythms and creating the structural issues. Sierra draws directly on popular music in the third movement of the Piano Trio No. 3 ("Romántico"), which is based on the ballad form known as "bolero" (not the Spanish dance), but even here he pushes the model into unexpected corners. More often his borrowings are abstract, like Stravinsky's from Russian music. Sample vigorous Agitado finale of the Trio No. 3 or the remarkable "Ritual" finale of the Piano Trio No. 2 (2002), where the piano dances around the two stringed instruments as they dip to the lower ends of their ranges and touch on non-tonal notes. The Trío Arbós, which specializes in Latin American music, gives vigorous, idiomatic performances. Highly recommended.

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