Music that achieves greatness by dealing with greatness.

Jimmy López Bellido’s mysteriously evocative composition Aurora, here in its world premiere, is a bold three-movement symphonic poem inspired by the Peruvian composer’s experience of seeing Finland’s northern lights during his students days in that country.

The richly-orchestrated score gives the superlative violinist Leticia Moreno a virtuosic turn in a composition created for her and for the ever-enterprising Houston Symphony and its peerless music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada, in a CD now issued by Pentatone.

Ad Astra (Latin for To the Stars), is a five-part composition dedicated to the accomplishments of the people of NASA. The work has evocative titles for each of its movements: Voyager, Apollo, Hubble, Challenger, and Revelation, and in each the composer does not stint on melody and novel harmonies.

Above all, López Bellido has an impressively varied command of orchestration, which he summons in Ad Astra to create effects that often sound as if they came from electronic sources, rather than from the acoustic instruments of the musicians of the Houston Symphony.

Never ever imitative in his work, López Bellido creates a stunning sonic landscape that alternates tutti outbursts from the percussion and brass with delicate filigree work from the strings and surprising twists and turns from the woodwinds, beyond the never exhaustive use of orchestration.

López Bellido’s music is imbued with deep emotional intensity and keen narrative through-line that uses a purely musical language to brilliantly convey the valiant investigations of the universe by humankind, ranging from the pioneering journey into deep space of Voyager through the success of Apollo, to the inquisitive explorations of the Hubble telescope, to Challenger’ tragic explosion, and on to the unknown in Revelation.

In sum, this is music that in an extraordinary performance by the Houston Symphony led by music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada, achieves greatness by dealing with greatness.

Rafael de Acha