Espacios Inasibles (1991-2)
for large orchestra
Malmö Symphony Orchestra
Arvo Volmer, conductor
Resplandor de los Surem (1996-8) (10:52)
Haydée Schvartz, piano
Terra Incognita (1992-7) (16:52)
for string trio and electronic tape
Pro Contemporania Trio
El Silencio ya no es el Silencio (1996) (6:33)
Sofía Asunción Claro, harp
5000 Voces (1994-5) (17:32)
for mezzo, chamber choir & ensemble
Marie Kobayashi, mezzo-soprano
Choir Vox Nova, Ensemble 2e2m
Olivier Cuendet, conductor
Composer supervised first recordings
Gabriel Valverde is internationally recognized as one of Argentina’s leading composers, noted his strong electronic pieces (most created using traditional analog tape resources) and instrumental works. This is his first monograph disc, and a great opportunity to sample this special composer’s voice.
The CD’s title, “Luminar” (taken from the second movement of the orchestral work Espacios Inasibles), aptly describes Valverde’s unique sound: a luminous kaleidoscope of colors and shifting masses of sound which often resonate towards – and from – silence.
AMONG THE YEAR’S BEST, SO FAR
On those rare occasions, all the more invaluable for being rare, one knows at the outset that he’s on to something special. Gabriel Valverde’s Espacios Inasibles (Fleeting Spaces) is just such an event, opening as it does with a brief, skewed and somber fanfare, a moment so ominous yet expertly compressed that one sits poised for what must follow, in the two-part event (Fragmentaciones and Luminar) a display of masterfully understated color and texture: deft gesture over bombast, which seems on short acquaintance among Valverde’s great strengths. We’ll return to the composer as soon as we discharge a few redundant thoughts on the means and meaning of discovery.
Fact: a recording of new music introduces the listener to compositions and performances he’d likely not otherwise hear, and it also instructs. Fact Two (and if any more occur in the course of these remarks, I’ll wedge them into their appropriate slots): the existence Mode’s Brian Brandt and his like. This listener remains indebted to these stubborn, hardy souls for discoveries I’d not have wanted to miss. Mode’s website, http://www.moderecords.com/, is attractive and clearly laid out. You can see for yourself how extensive a list Brandt has put together. This indy’s Cage project is unique, and that’s good of course, but Cage we all know. More to my point, Mode’s Gerard Pape and Chaya Czernowin CDs, to name two relative unknowns whose work seems to me impressive, are what one values most. Add to those rare birds Gabriel Valverde.
The abovementioned ominous fanfare foreshadows the concluding work, 5000 Voces of 1994-5, for mezzo, chorus and ensemble (Marie Kobayashi, Choir Vox Nova, and Ensemble 2e2m, Olivier Cuinder conducting). As I’m still full of the Xenakis disc (about which, see below), it does occur that there are many paths to dark places, perhaps motivated by the twentieth century’s grim history, which certainly propelled Xenakis and others to expressions of rage and dismay. No rage here; dark shadows rather. As a title, Terra Incognita (1992-7), for string trio and tape, serves as a guarantee: one is indeed on unknown terrain. Again, understatement within a quite magical environment until it turns turbulent, again, happily, magically. Valverde is in no way a regional composer, nor could one describe what he does as post-modernist. His musical persona is cosmopolitan / international and harmonically complex, i.e., a modernist holdout. Admirable grit!
— Mike Silverton, La Folia online music review
Gabriel Valverde is a composer of quiet music. I’m talking about a restful sometimes fidgety quiet that will that will draw you in and focus your attention on areas that seem less active. Valverde’s quiet isn’t minimal and won’t invoke trances. There is great energy in this music, and Valverde has a confident voice.
The first work on this Mode disc (Mode 94) is a grand two movement work for orchestra, Espacios Inasibles, that relinquishes great activity as if seen from a distance, perhaps even fixed at a distance with no hope of a close-up. In fact, I imagine much of Valverde’s music like looking down at the street from atop a high building, or trying to understand something in a background of a painting. Valverde’s titles do invite comparison to the metaphor of perception and space, quiet and non-quiet: Resplandor de los Surem (The light of the Surem), El Silencio ya no es al Silencio (Silence is no longer merely silence) and Terra Incognita.
Valverde has a wonderful orchestral palette full of subtle shadings, using percussion to support a texture or generating brief gestures in winds to give poise and balance. The longish 5000 Voices, for mezzo, chamber choir and ensemble, seems like an extended work of chamber music, though it is for moderately large forces. Terra Incognita, for string trio and tape, lacks the aggressiveness that other composers fall into when mixing strings with tape and may seem less interesting by comparison. But in the context of the rest of the disc, you will hear separate contrasting episodes, the tape acting as a catalyst.
The two solo works on the disc are subtle and reflexive: El Silencio ya no es al Silencio, for solo harp has a slack pulse and stutters gently forward. Resplandor de los Surem for piano solo is expansive. A wide range of performers are represented here, from the Malmö Symphony of Sweden to the French Ensemble 2e2m. Clearly Valverde has established a great rapport with some excellent performers and ensembles. This disc is not for those who think new music should be about noise and violence. Valverde brings a gentleness to the world which is surely lacking.
— Grant Chu Covell, La Folia online music review
Gabriel Valverde (Argentina) uses the language of late twentieth century music to create some really nice textures. Espacios Inasibles (1991-1992, Fleeting Spaces) for large orchestra plays with little melodic gestures and large jumps in volume. Resplandor de los Surem (1996-98, The Light of the Surem), this piano piece has a moody ambience. Terra Incognita (1992-1997) for string trio and electronic tape features large amounts of synthesized tape sounds with occasional appearances by the string trio. (My favorite track on this CD). El silencio ya no es silencio (1996, Silence is no longer merely silence) for harp is a nice meditation on the harp. Lots of paused silences juxtaposed with events. (Now I think this is MY favorite track on this CD). 5000 Voces (1994-1995) for mezzo, chamber choir and ensemble is a nice splash of the late 20th century. Liberal use of tuned percussion and large bursts from the ensemble, with sections of sustained pitch.
— David Beardsley, Downtown Music Gallery online review
“Die Interpreten leisten Vorbildliches. Herausragend arbeitet Haydee Schwartz in “Resplandor de los Surem” die Licht- und Schattenwirkungen heraus. Das Sinfonieorchester Malmö Symphony Orchestra setzt den suchenden, immer wieder auch stockenden Gestus von “Espacios Inasibles” treffend und mit großer Eindringlichkeit um. Und das Pro Contemporania Trio reagiert souverän und mit feinstem dynamischen Differenzierungen auf die Zuspielungen vom Tonband.”
— M. Demmler, FonoForum 6/01
Part of the importance of this CD, has to do with the fact that it has been released by Mode Records, and entirely dedicated to composer Gabriel Valverde. Nevertheless, its transcendent fact does not rely only on this point. Valverde works over militant revindication of the modernity and the coherence of his aesthetic language. This recording presents works for orchestra, solo piano, solo harp, voices and ensemble, string trio and electronic sounds (the outstanding TERRA INCOGNITA).
— Diego Fisherman, from newspaper PAGINA 12; Buenos Aires,
Also by Gabriel Valverde on Mode:
Haydée Schvartz: New Piano Works From Europe and The Americas
Ek-Stasis for piano and tape (mode 31)
Vox Nova on Mode:
“In the Sky I am Walking”: works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pascal
Dusapin and songs of the Native Americans. (mode 68)
Gabriel Valverde profile
Haydée Schvartz profile
Nicholas Isherwood profile
Nicholas Isherwood Online
Gabriel Valverde Online