GUSTAVO DÍAZ-JEREZ (b.1970): Maghek: 7 Symphonic Poems About the Canary Islands - Tenerife, La Palma for Clarinet and Orchestra, Lanzarote for Piano and Orchestra, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, El Hierro.
Catalogue Number: 05V068
Description: We're used to the idea of Nordic composers celebrating the imposing landscapes and haunting legends of the northern lands in music of commensurate scale and stature, drama and impact, but the Canary Islands? Well, as these seven monumental symphonic poems amply demonstrate, the towering volcanic scenery, weather and ocean phenomena, and myths of the indigenous people are equally suited to powerful, evocative musical representation. As in his remarkable Metaludios for piano (02U057) Díaz-Jerez employs a huge range of very contemporary techniques, from computer algorithms and spectral analyses to extended techniques and (sparingly) electronics to produce music the first effect of which is elemental grandeur and endless inventiveness. As we said of the piano cycle: 'The results are remarkably accessible, given the extreme techniques employed in "the composer's workshop"'. The title of the two and a half hour cycle is the name of the sun-goddess of the Guanches, the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands. These being evocations of islands, the sea is a constant presence and Díaz-Jerez employs a wide range of extended techniques to depict, with cinematic vividness, the sounds of waves, wind, and the cries of seabirds. The music of Fuerteventura in particular, an isle of broad, rocky landscapes, begins and ends with extended passages of this evocative tone-painting. Far from being limited to picturesque depictions of beautiful scenery, most of the pieces have at least one passage of powerful motoric momentum, punctuated by pylonic chords or flashes of lightning, and all set the scene with huge, piled-up blocks of orchestral texture; islands of grand tonal harmony amidst the swirling torrents of sonorism and computationally generated material. La Palma and La Gomera, against a backdrop of the natural formations where the events took place, depict tragedies that befell the indigenous population as a result of European colonialism; the clarinet concerto assigning a lamenting, desolate rôle to the solo instrument in two accompanied cadenzas and a final pained song. Two of the symphonic poems - the tragic La Palma and the monumental Lanzarote - site of an ancient volcanic cone and a colonial fortress - are fully fledged concerti with innovative and challenging solo parts in equal dialogue with the orchestra. Gran Canaria begins as a depiction of the mountain of that name (in the language of the Guanche people) and a spectacular sunrise, but then, echoing another of Díaz-Jerez' preoccupations, the music's horizons, and the composer’s imagination, not limited to an archipelago in the Atlantic, take a cosmological turn, depicting nothing less than the swirling collapse of matter into a black hole; the efflorescence of substance across an expanding universe, and its eventual dissipation - the music here is as impressive as it needs to be, in accelerating, propulsive orchestral tutti. The cycle as a whole is a magnificent achievement, immensely varied and inventive, and displaying an unconventional but complete mastery of large orchestral forces. 2 CDs. Cristo Barrios (clarinet), Ricardo Descalzo (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Eduardo Portal.