Mining for musical gold

Available online for purchase or streaming on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Deezer, and Google Play) and for physical purchase from  www.brilliantclassics.com MUSIC FOR VIOLIN AND VIOLA features two singularly talented artists.

Playing the music of Spohr, Halvorsen, Bruch, Manuel María Ponce, and Mozart, Italian violinist Davide Alogna and Mexican violist José Adolfo Alejo are joined by the Mexican ensemble Camerata de Coahuila, led by Ramón Shade.

This album brings together two superb instrumentalists who set out to investigate the abundant yet rarely explored duo repertoire for their instruments.

The results are splendid.

Seven works, among them Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, Louis Spohr’s Grand Duo, Max Bruch’s Double Concerto, and Halvorsen’s Passacaglia on a theme by Handel occupy multiple tracks, each worthy of attention.

Davide Alogna and José Adolfo Alejo together mine for musical gold throughout the entire program, playing elegantly, stylishly eliciting multiple colors from music written over two centuries, and all the while negotiating technical hurdles without any trouble.

The Mexican ensemble Camerata de Coahuila, led by Ramón Shade provides the two soloists peerless support in the grandly Romantic Double Concerto of Max Bruch.

The recording is perfectly engineered by Brilliant Classics.  

We look forward to more from these two artists.

OTHERWORDLY MUSIC

When I first heard a work by the late American composer Christopher Rouse – a performance of his symphony no. 6, his last – I wrote “… the now somber, now nervous, now agitated, now elegiac tone says with rare profoundness what mere words cannot begin to convey. In four movements, the sections of Rouse’s slow-fast-fast-slow structure segue into each other episodically — moments of reflective stasis contrast with blunt agitation, evoking life’s vicissitudes. Massive tone clusters from the large brass section, augmented by startling percussive outbursts, are suddenly juxtaposed with passages of eerie near stillness underpinned by jittery activity in the lower strings. Cantabile passages and peaceful soli for woodwinds alternate with massive statements from the amassed orchestra.”

Heaven forbid I should be taken to imply that Rouse repeats himself as I repeat my year-old words in the context of this review. On the contrary, this composer’s gift for finding unpredictable sounds from instruments often taken for granted thanks to his uncanny genius for orchestrating is more than ever before present in this remarkable performance of three works, including the impressive Symphony No. 5 by Christopher Rouse with the enormously gifted Giancarlo Guerrero leading the superb Nashville Symphony Orchestra issued by Naxos.

Supplica, an inspired composition brief in duration, serenely beautiful, leaning towards tonality while not altogether abandoning the freedom that Rouse’s free-wheeling use of atonality and polytonality provides the composer, gives the listener a welcome oasis of tranquility before the Concerto for Orchestra, where once more the composer demonstrates his ability to fearlessly take the listener from restlessness in tempo and melody lines to pockets of mysterious quiet.

This listener can think of no other composer in our time who can so enticingly transport us into music of such other sonic worlds.

Rafael de Acha

WHAT MY MUSIC AND THEATRE FRIENDS ARE DOING THESE DAYS

For creative people in the arts – many of them free-lancers who live from gig to gig – economic stability and security are most often uncertain. Now in the midst of the current pandemic their financial challenges have increased thousand-fold.

A long-tem friend, an unemployed talented set designer and theatre teacher is “… mostly bored…going through the thousands of photos from my travels. I also participate in an occasional on line scavenger hunt with other artists and theater folk. It’s a lot of fun and it raises money for various causes…”

Now that the pandemic has become a world-wide crisis, freelance artists and even those gainfully employed by major orchestras, regional theatres and dance companies are all facing major life decisions: “Do I move in with my parents or friends or move out of the big city or even consider a career change…What can I do to survive?”

Another long-term friend – a terrific sound designer, sounds off a somewhat positive, though certainly realistic note: “Well, my work has pretty much stopped short. I haven’t been employed since mid-March… all my summer shows have been cancelled. I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed the break however. Having 3 months off to decompress has…allowed me to reflect on what being a freelance designer means…Now that I’ve been home with my family for so long, I see how important that is to me and I will concentrate on a better work-life balance…”

Theatre, the most collaborative and multi-disciplinary of all the performing arts needs actors, directors, and designer-technicians like my designer friends.

Here is one of two enormously talented musicians: “(we) put together a 5-day virtual violin intensive – like a camp – a crash course on music theory, violin technique, sight reading, and more! The biggest unfortunate reality for us was being unable to travel… and visit my grandparents – something (we) have done every summer of our lives. Thankfully, they are all healthy and know how to video call!”

With great resilience and in spite of having lost three gigs – one of them an entire concert series that she directs, this young musician is grateful for a ‘drive by’ concert that a neighbor hired her for and for the opportunity to grow a vegetable garden.

These are just some of the stories about artist friends from the worlds of performing arts in which almost all activities can only be pursued along with others. Solo instrumentalists need a collaborative artist – a pianist or an orchestra or at the very least another instrumentalist. A theatre designer needs a technical staff to flesh out the artistic concept.

A gifted young man that we know and admire has lost his part-time work both as an accompanist to singers and as a music librarian, on top of his work playing for various churches around town. All of it is on hold.

An esteemed composer of our acquaintance who has made a successful living in New York for most of his working life is now preparing to leave the Big Apple now that work has all but dried up and come home where rentals are cheaper and where he hopes to diversify his income by doing   some part time teaching.

Another friend, a talented bass-baritone and voice teacher has been able to continue doing his instruction on line, but all up and coming singing gigs have vanished from his schedule. He is even contemplating the possibility of doing a recital on line. As a tenured professor in a major music conservatory he holds out the hope that a projected student production that he is slated to direct and co-produce will take place, although the school, in his words “has had to reorganize and rethink, and in some cases reprogram the entire season.”

Some stories, like the one about a very fine pianist and her husband, a gifted composer are potent, and their hopeful words compelling.

Like many of our colleagues, we were very sad to see the cancellation and postponement of performances and projects which we were very excited for: However, we have been extremely lucky to be able to take part in projects in response to COVID-19 (such as) our own… series which merges experimental video, photography, and… contemporary music…This extra time has given us the opportunity to reconnect with nature, slow down our speed, and work on our practice in new and rewarding ways…We both have found so much hope and imagination from our colleagues and the arts during this pandemic, and we want to share that positive message as much as possible.”

Designers, instrumentalists, singers… They all need an audience. They need Federal, State, and City assistance. They need governmental and private entities, donors, foundations, corporations to step up to help so that the artists in our country can continue to do their work in 2020, pandemic-ravaged America, work that will lift up our spirits and alleviate our cares and our grief.

Rafael de Acha

An intriguing 21st century composition

Commissioned and premiered by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Manfred Honeck, the ensemble’s superb Music Director, Jonathan Leshnoff’s  beautiful Double Concerto for Clarinet and Bassoon affords PSO principals Michael Rusinek (clarinet) and Nancy Goeres (bassoon) the opportunity to shine as soloists in this gorgeous 20-minute-long, three-movement composition.

Leshnoff’s music is unabashedly accessible. From the onset of the composition the composer establishes a bucolic, dreamy tonal landscape that at once engages the listener with the ebb and flow of its melancholy utterances.

First the bassoon then the clarinet, alternate in a quiet dialogue built on a short melodic motif that is gradually echoed by the orchestra. It is a haunting entrance into the world of this concerto and its composer.

But soon and early in the movement the tranquility of the beginning is briefly interrupted by a climactic outburst from the orchestra, only to soon return to the opening mood of the movement.

Less-than-three minutes in duration the humorous second movement is set to a waltz tempo. The music is elegant, at all times playful, capitalizing on the bassoon’s grumpy lower range, with the clarinet reminding its fellow woodwind brother to stop grumbling, which it does abruptly.

The third movement is all agility and syncopation, giving the soloists a workout in its rapid ascents and descents alone and in tandem. Suddenly the mood changes into a brief cantabile passage for the clarinet to give it center stage. Then the up and down antics of the two solo instruments resume their good-natured competition.

Now it is the bassoon that commands the attention, the way the clarinet did earlier in the movement. The activity increases as does the technical demands on both players, the entire affair careening towards an unpredictably blunt ending.

I am tempted to name this work as one of the most intriguing 21st century compositions this listener has ever encountered, for which huge gratitude is due to Reference Records, to Maestro Manfred Honeck and his Pittsburgh players, to the two superlative soloists – clarinetist Michael Rusinek and bassoonist Nancy Goeres, and most of all to the immensely gifted Jonathan Leshnoff, from whom we beg for more gems like this one.

We entreat the reader to get hold of this wonderful issue, either as a CD or as a download so as to enjoy in addition to the Leshnoff Double Concerto, a noble, bold, exhilarating performance of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 4 in F minor, opus 36.

Honeck drives the impulsiveness of the Russian master’s cri de coeur composition with an uncanny mix of fury and heartbreak, profound pathos and ultimately with a glimmer of the hope that allowed the composer to live through the innumerable vicissitudes that plagued his personal and professional lives.

This recording is already in my short list of BEST OF 2020.

Rafael de Acha – http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com  

A treasure trove of Baroque delights

Would Vivaldi have written more music for the clarinet if the instrument at his disposal had had all the bells and whistles of a modern one?

Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst tackles the answer to that question in the wonderful new Sony release Vivaldi, by playing three clarinet concertos using music from Vivaldi’s operas L’Olimpiade, Ottone in villa, La fida ninfa, Il Giustino, and the oratorio Juditha triumphans.

The results are splendid.

Performing on the chalumeau – the predecessor of the modern clarinet – as well as on a modern clarinet Fröst meets all the challenges an instrumentalist is likely to encounter when playing music conceived for the virtuoso vocalists of Vivaldi’s day.

The Swedish virtuoso displays dazzling technique, impeccable musicality, and an elegant way with the seamless legato required by the music.

The album is complemented with two Sinfonias and La Tortora, a charming air for chalumeau

Vivaldi, a treasure trove of Baroque delights recorded with the peerless baroque ensemble Concerto Köln is available as either download or CD.

Rafael de Acha

A BEETHOVEN FOR OUR TIMES.

A BEETHOVEN FOR OUR TIMES.

Undoubtedly Classical Music is undergoing tremendous changes, now more than ever in the era of Covid 19 and social distancing. Conductors and soloists are coming in newer, hipper models. Cool is no longer frowned upon. But neither is poor musicianship acceptable. Impostors are exposed. Routine music making is no longer tolerated.

Take Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis. With his European Indie film actor rugged looks, disheveled brown hair, basic-black wardrobe, leather jacket, and biker boots you’d think you were looking at a 1960’s nouvelle vague film idol rather than the much admired conductor of the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra.

But looks aside, this intriguing maestro throws tradition aside and, casting caution to the winds, sails through all four movements of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5 at top speed, drawing from his musicians a performance in which fast and faster tempi, extreme dynamic contrasts between piano and pianissimo, and forte and fortissimo, and overall drive are the hallmarks.

From the iconic triplet da-da-da-duhm that signals to even the neophyte that we must sit up and listen, to a defiantly fast final movement, Currentzis hits the mark time and again. This is  an angry, defiant Beethoven for our troubled times.

The Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra is a finely tuned ensemble totally attuned to their conductor’s uniquely off the beaten path Beethoven. If you are looking for a solemnly Germanic approach, look elsewhere. If you are looking for fresh air in the hallowed halls of the Classical repertory Currentzis is your man in this top-notch SONY release.

Rafael de Acha

I didn’t ‘get’ German Opera until I was old

I didn’t ‘get’ German Opera until I was old.

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Let me tell you up front that I didn’t ‘get’ German Opera until I was old and retired and had enough time in my hands to sit through the entire three hours plus of a Wagner opus. By then I had been going to the opera and listening to operas on Saturday afternoon’s radio broadcasts from the MET with Milton Cross mispronouncing the names of singers, and buying opera LP’s, and much later CD’s all that since I saw my first opera at fifteen – La traviata in Havana – and got hooked on the joys and sorrows of Violetta and Alfredo and their operatic goings on.

But most of all that opera-going and listening and discussing with friends at Juilliard where I went to study Voice in my early twenties was Italian (si!) and a little French (oui!) but hardly any German (nein!) or Russian (nyet!!!).

Maybe it was partly the fault of my teachers: Jennie Tourel – an Opera star in the 30’s and 40’s and 50’s who specialized in French roles – and Marion Szekely-Freschl – a Hungarian Opera star in pre WWII Europe who sang a lot of German Opera but could not bear the sound of the German language because it reminded her of the family she lost in Europe during the dreadful years leading up to and during the Second World War.

So it was all Mozart (in Italian) and Handel (in Italian) and Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti (all in Italian) what made me fall in love with Italian Opera all over again, even though most of the music Verdi and Puccini wrote was beyond my vocal capabilities, as was the entire Wagner canon, written in a language I could not speak and music I could not begin to sing.

The role of Papageno in Mozart’s German-language The Magic Flute was betted by my teachers and it became a suitable choice in the ubiquitous Ruth and Thomas Martin translation.

But that was as far as far as my forays into the German rep went.

And yet and now in my golden years I am starting to love German Opera. I can’t sing it to save my live – never could – but I can certainly listen to it, even an entire Tristan und Isolde in one sitting, as I recently did and lived to tell.

Most people I know can easily identify with most of those father figures in Rigoletto and Simon Boccanegra and the hapless heroine of Aida and the head-over-heels tenors in love in Don Carlo and in just about any Puccini opera.

Their plights and challenges and emotional roller coasters are not far removed from those of many of us common folk, even if their exotic or lofty stations as court jesters or royalty or high-class call-girls or enslaved princesses make them seemingly different from mere mortals like you and me.

They are not.

But, when it comes to all those fantastical beings – gods, giants, monsters, talking dragons, swimming-singing maidens, knights who commune with the goddess of love, strangers who go around in boats pulled by a swan, evil magicians, and women and men who drink magical potions that make them fall in love, and singing shoe-makers in love with a girl half their age… well… our capacity for empathy and our ability to temporarily suspend disbelief are challenged.

But then, there is the music.

If an opera producer is fortunate to secure the services of a tenor who can look like a young fellow in his teens (Parsifal, Siegfried) or a handsome hero (Sigmund, Walther, Tristan, Lohengrin) or a soprano who can pass for a maiden of 18 in distress or in love or both (Isolde, Elsa, Elisabeth, Sieglinde, Eva…) and sing with lungs of steel, luck is on his side.

The challenge is that most singers capable to take on the high decibel, sustained, vocally-punishing writing Wagner assigned especially to his sopranos and tenors and baritones and deliver in a house like the MET with its 3,800 seats and be heard over an orchestra that can have over one hundred musicians competing in the anything-you-can-sing-I-can-play-louder marathons that Wagnerian performances can often become, often look like anything but the characters they are asked to portray.

But then, there is the music.

Listening to an opera by Wagner on the computer (Thank you, You Tube) or on a CD is for me much more enjoyable than dressing up and driving to the theatre after paying a hefty price for a pair of tickets for my companion and myself, and trying to stay awake though an eons-long Wagnerian work.

In the comfort of home I can pause, get up to get a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and then come back to slug my way through Tristan und Isolde.

And if I don’t like the modern-dress production by director XYZ – the one set in a WWI submarine (… not making this up… ) – why then I can turn that off and watch another choice on You Tube or, often my strategy, choose a vintage recording with some of the greats of the past (Birgit Nilson, Wolfgang Windgassen, Hans Hotter) and close my eyes and create my very own staging in my mind.

Wagner does not provide many entries for the Opera Hit Parade. His through-composed writing style makes it difficult to pull out excerpts, the way one can with the stop-for-applause-and-start-again approach of most of Verdi and Puccini.

Wagner’s Greatest Hits are orchestral – the overtures to Rienzi, Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, the Preludes to Acts I and III of Lohengrin, the Good Friday music of Parsifal, Siegfried’s Rhine Journey, Siegfried’s Funeral March

So hang in there, all of you members of the Verdi and Puccini fan clubs, and give Wagner a try.

Slowly.

Start with Flying Dutchman, then work your way through Tannhäuser and Lohengrin… then, when you feel ready for a sixteen-hour journey on the Rhine, go for the four-operas musical marathon that makes up the Ring Cycle.

After that, use some Mozart as a palate cleanser.

Imperialism and its ancillary repression of minorities go hand in hand.

Columbus had never been farther south than Ceuta, a Spanish outpost on the West Coast of Africa, but he had studied geography from a mix of biblical stories and medieval writings that still spoke of the earth as being flat. And now he was sailing uncharted seas, looking for a path to the Indies – the name 15th century Europeans gave to the Orient.

Columbus and his crew endured nearly two months of rancid water, rotten food, vermin, intestinal disorders, insufferable living quarters, and storms, but he was vindicated when Rodrigo de Triana, the lookout on duty on the Pinta cried “Land Ahoy!” On October 28, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on Baracoa beach, on the northeast coast of Cuba, and claimed the island for the Spanish Crown, writing in his diary: “This is the most beautiful land that human eyes ever beheld.” 

He then added: “Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands came to capture them, and they defended themselves as best they could. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. “

The Spanish proceeded to enslave all of the indigenous people of Cuba, burning alive those who resisted conversion to Christianity. They forced men, women and children to work from sunrise to sundown. The potentially “good and skilled servants” had grown up sleeping on hammocks, making cassava bread, reaching up to trees laden with guavas and mangos, and harpooning fish with sharpened twigs before barbecuing it.

Within a century more than one hundred thousand natives whose forefathers had inhabited Cuba for over one thousand years died from malnutrition, measles, smallpox, and venereal diseases contracted as a result of the treatment they received at the hands of the Spanish.

Once the Spanish ran out of natives to enslave and ill treat hundreds of thousands of African slaves were imported to Cuba from the Ivory Coast. For exactly four hundred and six years Cuba, the so-called “Pearl of the Antilles”, was subjugated to an occupation that was at best paternalistic and at its worst criminal. Cuba’s frail economy was based primarily on sugar – 40% of the world’s supply in mid-19th century, and reliance on the back-breaking work of more than as quarter million  slaves, while thrtere hundred thousand Spanish settlers held all the economic power.

On December 27, 1868 an uprising, led by the Cuban landowner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, who issued a decree abolishing slavery, led to the Ten Years War.  In 1878 it ended in an uneasy peace, with Spain “promising” greater autonomy to Cuba.

Spain was hands-down the most draconian, brutal, repulsive and repressive colonial power in Latin America, and of all of Spain’s colonies, Cuba was the one possession the Spanish Crown was determined to keep at all costs. But while the rest of the colonies seceded from Spain, Cuba rumbled like a sleeping volcano under the seemingly peaceful surface that gave it the Spanish motto of “Always Most Faithful Island.”

Cuban-born people outlived their Spanish-born parents and grandparents as strong nationalism and anti-Spanish feelings rose even among the Cuban-born, lily-white “criollos” to whom Spain offered a certain measure of stability and protection. The unrest was shared by a nascent middle class tinged with a white and black olor palette and proud to be Cuban and all shades of brown. 

A large contingent of Cuban-born mulattos, the children of Spanish and African mothers and fathers once grown into adulthood were rising up and tragically fighting against their parents who remained on the fence or on the opposite side. The hatred reached a peak especially among the liberated Black population. 

The once idyllic island was becoming a powder keg of rage and defiance. 

The first of three insurrections began In October 1868, led by a white, first generation Cuban landowner, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes.  He declared that slavery was abhorrent and abolished, and liberating his slaves welcomed everyone into his army.

White Cubans called it the War of Independence, but it was also a war of black Cubans fighting against the white Spaniards who had enslaved them.  Antonio Maceo, the son of slaves and a gigantic man that Cubans named The Bronze Titan, joined Céspedes and quickly became second in command, giving the Spaniards the fight of their lives. 

Spain had endured overwhelming defeats up and down the South American continent, and Cuba had become the last bastion of Spanish presence in the Americas. The obdurate occupiers were hanging on for dear life to the island they grandiloquently called “The Pearl upon the Royal Spanish Crown.”  That war continued for 10 years, but liberation from Spain was still beyond Cuba’s reach.   Spain made promises for reforms, but they never came, and although Céspedes had declared freedom for slaves, Spain was still in charge, and their emancipation was still not recognized by the occupier.  

The second of those hostilities, led by Calixto García, took place from 1879-1880, and was referred to as the “Little War,” although in many ways it was a continuation of the previous war.  García traveled to New York, where he gathered a group of Cuban exiles determined to liberate their country.  They composed a manifesto, and returned to Cuba to fight the good fight.  Though determined, they were on their own with no allies and few resources.  

The ten-year, two back-to-back struggles left Cubans exhausted, with few weapons and little ammunition. With only the aging García’s leadership, they were again defeated by the Spanish.

Although now twice defeated, Cubans had remained defiant.  The centuries-old fight-to-the-death resolve of their forefathers and the determination of African-born slaves to finally be free spurred them on.  

For a third time, a loosely-knit insurrection began at the end of 1894, and by April 1895, armaments from the United States to aid the rebels were coming by the boatload, mostly into the largely wide-open northern coast of Cuba.

Cubans had gained the sympathy of the United States, which certainly was a factor that would lead to the Spanish American War. On January 28, 1898 the United States sent a battleship “to offer protection to American residents in Cuba.” On the evening of February 15, 1898, the U.S. Maine blew up in Havana’s harbor, killing or maiming most of its 260 crew members.

A board of inquiry reported that the Maine had been destroyed by “a double magazine set off from the exterior of the ship, which could only have been produced by a mine.”  

Spain and the United States declared war on each other. The Spanish–American War was the result of the United States entering the ongoing Cuban War of Independence when U.S. expeditionary forces disembarked in Oriente. After barely two months American forces obtained an immediate and unconditional surrender and Madrid sued for peace, finally losing its last outpost in the American continent.

At the end of the Cuban War of Independence in 1898, Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris, under which Spain received $20 million U.S. in exchange for giving up all territorial claims to Cuba. During the Spanish-American War, the United States had maintained a military arsenal in Cuba to protect U.S. holdings. In 1899, President McKinley decided to occupy the island, fearing chaos and the possible rise of a revolutionary government in Cuba.

Some good was done during the American occupation in an effort to turn Cuba into a “self-governing colony.” The United States created sanitation systems, installed a trolley system and set up health care centers. Voting rights were given to all literate, adult, male Cubans with property worth $250 or more, but this resulted in the exclusion of the Afro-Cuban population and the creation of an all-white, all-male, all-wealthy voting majority.

The Platt Amendment was introduced to Congress by Senator Orville H. Platt (R. Connecticut) on February 25, 1901. The Platt Amendment defined the terms of Cuban-U.S. Relations, ensuring U.S. involvement in Cuban affairs, giving legal standing to U.S. claims to several territories on the island. It restricted Cuba in foreign policy and commercial relations, and demanded that Cuba sell or lease such lands to the United States as deemed necessary for the development of naval stations. It imposed a tariff that gave Cuban sugar preference in the U.S. market.

The United States quickly replaced Spain in its role of dominant power over Cuba’s territory.

On May 20, 1902 the Republic of Cuba was born. President Theodore Roosevelt withdrew federal troops from the island, but Cuba was forced to sign a treaty perpetually leasing Guantánamo Bay to the U.S. After the U.S. built a naval base there, American dominance of Cuban affairs became a fact of life. The 1940 Cuban Constitution eliminated the Platt Amendment, but it could not nullify the long-term lease of Guantánamo Bay, which remains to this day in violation of the 1969 Vienna Convention.

Tomás Estrada Palma, a respected veteran of Cuba’s Ten Year War, served as the nation’s first president between 1902 and 1906, during which he made substantial improvements to the depleted infrastructure of the country. Charles Magoon was appointed Cuba’s temporary Governor. Barely four years into its infant democrac, Cuba was already enduring another U.S. intervention.

After a few months, independence was restored, and José Miguel Gómez became Cuba’s second president, but one still facing the threat of another civil war and U.S. intervention, when the Independent Party attempted to establish a separate black republic in Eastern Cuba. President Gómez’ repression was swift and brutal: 6,000 black and mulatto men were massacred by the all-white Cuban Army.

I grew up in an unstable, topsy-turvy country, one blessed with a population of well-meaning, talented, patriotic people who loved their country beyond words, and remained at all times sanguine about the future prospects of their young country, one born out of imperialistic paternalism and cursed by yet another neighbor to the North with an ever watchful eye on things Cuban.

The myopia of the new occupiers prevented them from seeing the Castro juggernaut heading towards Havana in the late 1950’s, yet another wolf in sheep’s clothing that still continues to rule the Pearl of the Antilles and still keeps the black population of roughly 9% living in substandard conditions and out of important positions.

AMOUR ETERNELLE

DELOS will be releasing on June 19th AMOUR ETERNELLE, an album of French and Italian arias featuring the spectacular EKATERINA SIURINA accompanied by the ever supportive Constantine Orbelian, leading the Kaunas Symphony Orchestra.

I had a chance to listen to a media download of this recording and I highly recommend it.

Ekaterina Siurina is a marvelous singer. Blessed with an angelically pure soprano voice, the ascending Russian star opens her album with a stunning rendition of Depuis le jour, from Carpentier’s Louise. She rises with ease to the climactic moment here and elsewhere  in a perfect Je veux vivre from Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, which she then follows with a poignantly sung though less familiar Roméo! Qu’as-tu donc?, and a flawless Me voilà seule dans la nuit from Les pêcheurs de perles plus a superb aria of Micaela from Bizet’s Carmen.

Perfectly suited to the French lyric soprano repertory, the young soprano moves easily into the slightly heavier Puccini territory of La rondine, La boheme, Turandot (Liu), and an ethereal Salce from Verdi’ Otello, with stellar partnering by her husband Charles Castronovo.

The album is engineered to the usual perfection of Delos.

I can’t breathe!

I can’t breathe! Je peux pas respirer! No puc respirar! Ich kann nicht atmen! Δεν μπορώ να αναπνεύσω  אני לא יכול לנשום  Ek kan nie asemhaal nie!                     ! أنا لا يمكنني التنفس. Nemůžu dýchat! Не мога да дишам! 我不能呼吸! Ne mogu disati! Jeg kan ikke trække vejret! Ik krijg geen adem! Ma ei saa hingata! Hindi ako makahinga! En saa henkeä! मैंसाँसनहींलेसकता! Nem kapok levegőt! Ég get ekki andað! Ní féidir liom análú! Non riesco a respirare! 行きができません! 숨을쉴수없어요!Es nevaru elpot! Negaliu kvėpuoti! Ma nistax nieħu n-nifs! Nie mogę oddychać!Não consigo respirar! Nu pot să respir! Я не могу дышать! Nemôžem dýchať! ¡No puedo respirar! Jag kan inte andas! Nefes alamıyorum! Я не можу дихати!Gallaf i ddim anadlu! I can’t breathe!