Martha Marchena, Sonoric Rituals

Brian Wise

By Brian Wise

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Ten composers from six countries wrap folk music into 20th century modernism.

For those curious about Latin American music with a modern edge, this album by Cuban-born pianist Martha Marchena is an excellent place to start. Marchena, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1979 to study piano at the University of Miami, presents ten composers from six countries, many of whom get inspiration from folk material but also from more unlikely sources: the spiky harmonies and jagged rhythmic contours of 20th century modernism. The “Preludios Tropicais” by Brazilian Cesar Guerra Peixe feature bits of folk music fused with 12-tone techniques. Carlos Vazquez's “Imagenes Caribenas” are musical snapshots of a Costa Rican volcano, a Puerto Rican lake and a popular Cuban beach, but seemingly filtered through the lens of a Viennese modernist. Other works sound more like Debussy, particularly Isabel Aretz's “Por la Senda Kh'asana,” which blends elements of Indian folklore with ethereal shadings. Alicia Terzian's Toccata, based on Argentine folk music, ends the collection with a wallop.