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La Folia online music review, New York, USA, 2001, ByMike Silverton
Gabriel Valverde
Mode 94


On those rare occasions, all the more invaluable for being rare, one knows at the outset that he's on to something special. Gabriel Valverde's Espacios Inasibles (Fleeting Spaces) is just such an event, opening as it does with a brief, skewed and somber fanfare, a moment so ominous yet expertly compressed that one sits poised for what must follow, in the two-part event (Fragmentaciones and Luminar) a display of masterfully understated color and texture: deft gesture over bombast, which seems on short acquaintance among Valverde's great strengths. We'll return to the composer as soon as we discharge a few redundant thoughts on the means and meaning of discovery.

Fact: a recording of new music introduces the listener to compositions and performances he'd likely not otherwise hear, and it also instructs. Fact Two (and if any more occur in the course of these remarks, I'll wedge them into their appropriate slots): the existence Mode's Brian Brandt and his like. This listener remains indebted to these stubborn, hardy souls for discoveries I'd not have wanted to miss. Mode's website,, is attractive and clearly laid out. You can see for yourself how extensive a list Brandt has put together. This indy's Cage project is unique, and that's good of course, but Cage we all know. More to my point, Mode's Gerard Pape and Chaya Czernowin CDs, to name two relative unknowns whose work seems to me impressive, are what one values most. Add to those rare birds Gabriel Valverde.

The abovementioned ominous fanfare foreshadows the concluding work, 5000 Voces of 1994-5, for mezzo, chorus and ensemble (Marie Kobayashi, Choir Vox Nova, and Ensemble 2e2m, Olivier Cuinder conducting). As I'm still full of the Xenakis disc (about which, see below), it does occur that there are many paths to dark places, perhaps motivated by the twentieth century's grim history, which certainly propelled Xenakis and others to expressions of rage and dismay. No rage here; dark shadows rather. As a title, Terra Incognita (1992-7), for string trio and tape, serves as a guarantee: one is indeed on unknown terrain. Again, understatement within a quite magical environment until it turns turbulent, again, happily, magically. Valverde is in no way a regional composer, nor could one describe what he does as post-modernist. His musical persona is cosmopolitan / international and harmonically complex, i.e., a modernist holdout. Admirable grit!

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