Hilda Paredes

(b. 1957)

mode 149

Listen How They Talk: Chamber Music 1998-2001


mode 149 Hilda Paredes: Listen How They Talk: Chamber Music 1998-2001 – Uy U T’an for string quartet; Cotidales for piano quintet; Ah Paaxo’ob for 21 musicians — Arditti Quartet, Ian Pace, Die Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart, Ensemble Modern, Stefan Asbury

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Listen How They Talk: Chamber Music 1998-2001

Uy U T’an (1998)   (14:54)
for string quartet
The Arditti Quartet

Cotidales (2001)   (18:29)
for piano quintet
Ian Pace, piano
The Arditti Quartet

Ah Paaxo’ob (2001)   (18:59)
for 21 musicians
Ensemble Modern
Stefan Asbury, conductor

Can Silim Tun (1999)
for vocal quartet & string quartet
I   (11:30)
II   (4:40)
Die Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart
The Arditti Quartet

One of Mexico’s leading composers, Hilda Paredes went to London at age 21 where she studied with Peter Maxwell Davies and Richard Rodney Bennett. Parades says that the longer she has been away from Mexico, the more she has felt drawn to it. For her, ‘Mexico’ means not the territory immediately beneath the US border, but the far south of the country – the home of the ancient Mayan cultures. Significantly, most of her titles are not in Spanish, but in Mayan (a language her grandfather still spoke).

Folkloric rhythmic stereotypes, such as one finds in the music of Revueltas, play little role here. Rather, the Mayan influence is a sense of the mysterious – her string writing in particular evokes a world of mysterious, twisting tendrils, of slippery, sensuous undergrowth. This is fused with ‘rhythmic’ elements influenced by Indian music, which she learned about in England.

The title Uy U T’an, for string quartet, means something like “Listen how they talk”. Each instrument is given a distinct, human personality, and the relationship between them ranges from consensus to non-communication. Paredes imagined a “crazy and hyperactive first violin”, contrasting with “an introverted and sometimes clumsy second violin”, a “relaxed and expressive viola”, and “an absent minded cello”.

Mayan magic has a literal presence in Can Silim Tun for vocal quartet and string quartet. On a trip to Mexico, Paredes found an old Mayan codex which contained “spells, prayers and medical prescriptions”, and two of the spells form the basis of this work. The voices recall the world of the late-Renaissance madrigalists. One can interpret the voices as representing culture, and the strings nature, not least because the latter have a constant presence into which the vocal utterances are inserted.

A commission from Ensemble Modern, Ah Paxoo’ob is a “concerto for ensemble” based on the Mayan’s approach to measuring time.

Cotidales refers to the marine notion of co-tidal lines: the forces within tidal currents that lead to various geographic points having high tides at the same time. The work is in four distinct sections where the whole ensemble plays interspersed with others where only one or two players come to the fore. Throughout the work, the piano leads a double life: sometimes primarily defined by activities in the piano interior (muted notes, or glissandi across the strings), yet also as a ‘keyboard virtuoso’.

The music is performed here by the world’s most prestigious new music ensembles and soloists.

Liner notes by Richard Toop.


Hilda Paredes
Listen How They Talk: Chamber Music 1998-2001

Uy U T’an; Cotidales; An Paaxo’ob; Can Silim Tun
Pace/Arditti Quartet/Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart/Ensemble Modern/Asbury
Mode 149

Though Hilda Paredes was born in Mexico (in 1957), she has been based in London since the late 1970s. Certainly, there is more that is European than Latin American about her musical language: her composition teachers included Maxwell Davies and Casken. However, her use of Mayan (which her grandfather spoke) for the titles of many of her works suggests that the indigenous culture remains a potent element in her thinking.

The pieces on this disc were written over a three-year period, from the 1998 string quartet Uy U Tan through the settings of Mayan spells and incantations in Can Silim Tun (1999), to the piano quintet Cotidales and the ambitious ensemble piece Ah Paaxo’ob from 2001. All show that Paredes is a composer with a fresh aural imagination, while her Carter-like use of instrumentalists as dramatic protagonists gives her music an extra dimension. Superbly played, it’s music worth investigating.
— Andrew Clements, The Guardian, Friday, December 23, 2005

Hilda Paredes
Listen How They Talk: Chamber Music 1998-2001

Arditti Quartet, Ensemble Modern, cond. Stefan Asbury
Mode 149
3 Stars

Paredes, born in Mexico but long resident in London, should be better known. All four works are finely written and full of life. The title of her string quartet, Uy U T’an – in ancient Mayan – means Listen How They Talk, and Paredes takes the idea of “discourse” literally. The idea dates back to Haydn’s quartets, but she gives it an Arditti-ish twist, and the work has a superb dramatic sweep. The Ardittis are joined by the pianist Ian Pace for Cotidales and by Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart for the magic-spell evocation of Can Silim Tun. Ah Paaxo’ob (Those Who Play the Music) is a colourfully detailed ensemble piece.
— PAUL DRIVER, The Sunday Times (London), October 16, 2005



Also by Hilda Paredes on Mode Records:
The Seventh Seed (mode 60)

The Arditti Quartet: Mexico – New Music for Strings (mode 165)

Espacios Intemporales for saxophone quartet (2017) — SIGMA Project (mode 331)

Señales —Señales, “Homenaje a Jonathan Harvey” for violin & ensemble (Irvine Arditti, violin. Ensemble Signal/Brad Lubman); Páramo de voces for piano & tape (Alberto Rosado, piano); Intermezzo malinconico for bass clarinet solo (Adrián Sandi); Homenaje a Remedios Vario; Recuerdos del Porvenir (ensemble recherche) (mode 292)

The Arditti Quartet profile
Stefan Asbury profile
Die Neuen Vokalsolisten Stuttgart profile
Ensemble Modern profile
Ian Pace profile
Hilda Paredes profile

Hilda Paredes Web Site