New Music of the Americas is a compilation of works by award-winning US-based composer Leonardo Le San and Argentine composers, Mauricio Charbonnier and more.
Online PR News – 15-September-2020 – Philadelphia – New Music of the Americas: Ensemble New Romanticism
Works by Leonardo Le San, Mauricio Charbonnier, Astor Piazzolla, Carlos Guastavino, Alberto Ginastera. Released by Winter Cat Records.
There is a popular aphorism that says there is no accounting for taste. This statement carries implicit contradictions. Such an axiom constitutes that there aren’t norms or laws that mandate how to produce a certain work. In such works of art, rivers of ink and words have run throughout the ages and will continue to do so. However, the part about the normative is not entirely true: in each artistic context, geography, or era, there have been canons authorized by those who seek to control what is to be produced and how to do it or how to say it.
With respect to the more academic music of the 20th century, an unwritten yet validating benchmark was imposed. This rule held in contempt any works that potentially derived from romantic and classical elements, as if it were an obligation for creators to subscribe to the more experimental and Avant guard tendencies. Most of these accepted works were made for the very few specialists and consequentially excluded most of the concert listeners out of its scope.
This is not the case for Ensemble, New Romanticism formed by Argentine composer and pianist, Mauricio Charbonnier in 2011. In 2019, Leonardo Le San, a Colombian composer from Philadelphia came to the ensemble as a guest artist to jointly build the New Music of the Americas project. This collaborative endeavor’s primary function is to bring new works to center stage by composers living and non-living from the Americas. The philosophy of such an idea is to seek a renovation and innovation of classical and romantic traditions that have still much more left to say.
Everything stated above has a direct connection to this recording album in which Charbonnier and Le San contribute their own compositions. The works have Neo-romantic, New-classical influences that are aligned with the three emblematic Argentine masters Carlos Guastavino, Astor Piazzolla, and Alberto Ginastera. Both Guastavino and Piazzolla had to endure the lack of understanding from their contemporaries: Guastavino for committing himself to compose in the realm of beauty and simple themes while his contemporaries embarked in experimentation with newer musical languages. Piazzolla for having to face the cruel debate if what he wrote was tango, popular, or was it academic-new classical music? On the contrary, Ginastera had the fortune of evolving in three different phases. The first one in which the composer adapted well into a more telluric model but such practice gradually disappeared from his writing.
In the case of song Triste, (lyric-typical Gauchesca expression) this work connects us to the Ginastera closer to Argentine’s campera nostalgia. The song is in line with the simple beauty of El Clavel Del Aire Blanco by Guastavino, interpreted by soprano Macarena Urg. In regards to Piazzolla, his ineffable Oblivion is a beautiful version for bandoneon and piano that portrays the most sublime melodic lines of the composer from Mar de Plata.
Charbonnier explains that beauty and the sacred are two main constitutional elements of his work. The artist also concludes that these two elements are essential in the development of the human soul. The first dimension is highlighted in his nocturne, Los Pájaros negros, and the second one in the sacred work Canciones sagradas. This piece has an interesting parallel to the contemporary version of the sacred text in Leonardo Le San’s composition, Blessed are the Poor dedicated to all refugees. The work has virtuosic vocal cadenzas and chamber music interludes executed well by the flute, violoncello, and piano. One can hear the composer’s connection to Schubert’s lieder through the main theme carried brilliantly by soprano Macarena in counterpoint and harmonized efficiently with the bandoneon. The composer’s complex interests can vary from L. Bernstein to Charles Ives and beyond but also to South American styles. Consequently, Le San’s other works in the album are Tango Impromptu No.1 and 2. These two solo pieces show a different side of the composer and his relationship with jazz, Argentine folklore, Liszt, and classical masters from the XX century.
Composer Charbonnier affirms his personal perspective about the trajectory of art and the need to retake a search for emotional depth and transcendency. Le San proposes a fresh look at the masters and contemporary possibilities in composition. Together Charbonnier and Le San create a unique space in which new music can have a connection to the past while also making newer works of art. Beyond the categorizations of Neo-romanticism and the tonal tradition, the most important part of this project is that it comes from an honest quest for beauty. From that place, it is recommended to listen attentively to this musical journey found in the New Music of the Americas album.
Germán A. Serain
Journalist and host at the National Classical-Radio of Argentina