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Sonoloco (Danish Music Magazine), Copenhague, 2003, By Ingvar Loco Nordin

LUMINAR, review

This remarkable note is left in the CD booklet by Margarita Fernandéz in connection with the first work present on this release by Argentinean composer Gabriel Valverde (1957); ”Espacios Inasibles” (”Fleeting Spaces”) (1991 – 92). She arrives at the aphorism through an interesting analysis in connection with this first piece on the CD, which can be studied in the booklet; and I would think the title could also be transposed into the more familiar and often utilized conception of ”fleeting images”.

Starting this orchestral venture with a bang, there are long stretches of whimpers to follow, though interspersed with rougher and louder incidents, and it all makes for an
interesting tonal landscape, arising out of the mist of the collected tones of the orchestra.

There is a progression, a sense of directional movement, present through all this, in a sort of subdued or ”hidden” rhythm or breathing, making it quite easy to follow through
as you take on the role of the attentive listener, holding on across these barely sensed topographies. The sense of graveness, of a certain bold seriousness, doesn’t leave you, and whatever this darker strand through the web means, it sets the standards here. Some of the percussive incidents appear like sudden blossoming of colorful flowers on this bed of dark, murky, moist soil. Precarious glissandi in the higher string pitches paint bulging, flowing arches on high.

”Resplandor de los Surem” (”The Light of the Surem”) (1996 – 98) is a piano solo piece. Immediately an atmosphere is defined; a dreamy, moist, misty feeling of a secret garden, perhaps hidden somewhere in an impressionistic painting forgotten in an attic in the south of France, living its own life in shapes and shadings of the crackling oil beneath layers of century-thick dust, and through a crack in the attic wall a streak of daylight carries the melancholic song of a September bird… and such is the timeless, inward hypnosis of this beautiful pianism, this involuntary speech of the ebony and ivory…

”Terra Incognita” (1992 – 97) for string trio and electronic tape commences in brittle electronic pitches, allowing bowed and bent percussive sounds to soar and pan through space, in the attentive apprehension of the moment. These sparse – getting denser! – percussive waves of sheer golden and silvery, radiant beauty, are suspended weightlessly in the air in front of you, as the string trio – almost imperceptibly – enters to fill in the void between the percussive spheres of weightlessness… Marvelous, beautiful! Transitions from instrumental to electronic sounds and vice versa are fleeting, obscure; perfect! The result is that of a fluctuation between intricate patterns of sound and expanding spaces of silence, contoured by a tonal paintbrush applied with point-blank precision by Gabriel Valverde. Out of all the so-called mixed pieces I’ve heard, this is one of the most precious to my ear.

”El Silencio ya no es el Silencio” (”Silence Is No Longer Merely Silence” ) (1996) for harp has – as conveyed by the booklet text – repeated score indications stating ”al niente” (the void where sound disappears) and ”dal niente” (the void from which sound emerges), plus ever-present ”l.v”; allow to vibrate. With that score information at hand, the result is very much self-explanatory. What you get is a soft-spoken web of a wavy character, in which the plucked and strummed vibrancy of the harp arises and descends, in a mood of meditative sceneries; perhaps glaciers, perhaps seascapes, perhaps hot desert mirages… It’s as if the composer would have preferred to work with complete silence instead of with sound, while being forced to utilize the sound he didn’t want to use, in order to convey that though, that feeling, in a contradictory composition…

The phonetics used in "5000 Voces"

”5000 Voces” (1994 – 95) is a work on a grander, more complicated scale, combining, as it does, a mezzo-soprano, a chamber choir and an instrumental ensemble in a rendering of a piece that contains a text of purely phonetic indications, without actual intelligible speech. The instrumental introduction is rather conventional in its somewhat dramatic, a little bit erratic, convulsive outbursts in between sections where the dust settles. As the phonetics are spoken by the mezzo-soprano the piece takes on a sound-poetic guise which is very attractive to me, since I think I’ve only heard that technique used in an
ensemble setting in works by Maestro Stockhausen before. Usually, when you’re enjoying sound poetic recordings, they’re soloistic recordings, like the amazing adventures of Jaap Blonk, Henri Chopin or for example French banker Bernard Heidsieck. There is some kind of story involved here too, making this almost a theatrical piece, concerning monkeys in a cage at 3 AM, but I won’t dwell on that here.
Extensive but guarded use of percussion gives the music a brittle, glittering, glistening metallic and sometimes wooden feeling, adding to the splendor of the tonal web. Valverde manages to keep a certain tension throughout, stretching across moments of apprehensive silence and right through the center of brutal clusters of cascading orchestral eruptions.


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