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Gottschalk And Cuba / Antonio Iturrioz

Release Date: 09/21/2018
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30102
Composer:  Louis Moreau Gottschalk ,  Manuel Saumell ,  Nicolas Ruiz Espadero ,  Ignacio Cervantes  ...  Performer:  Antonio Iturrioz

When most people think of Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), Creole pianist and composer, they think of pieces such as The Banjo, Bamboula, The Dying Poet, and other familiar pieces. But he was so much more than that. He was America’s first important pianist-composer. He was the precursor to ragtime and early jazz and anticipated the works of Granados and Albéniz. He traveled the world and spent several years of his short, colorful and tragic life in the Caribbean where he fell in love with Cuba and its music.

This CD is a journey through 100 years of Cuban classical piano music, much of it never before recorded. The story begins with Gottschalk’s years in Cuba and is told chronologically as each important
Read more pianist-composer influenced by Gottschalk passes this influence on to the next generation, starting with Saumell to Espadero to Cervantes to de Blanck to Ernesto Lecuona and to his distinguished composer sister, Ernestina.

R E V I E W S:

“[Antonio Iturrioz] mesmerized audiences with his virtuosity and eloquently realized execution of this extraordinary piano transcription of La Nuit des Tropiques, Symphony Romantique."
-- Cranberry Coast Concerts, 2017

"Antonio Iturrioz's projection of the inner life in these works of Gottschalk et al is uncanny. Of course, his technical mastery is beyond complete but it is his realization of the ‘heart and soul’ of this music which is most impressive."
-- Andre Watts, March 26, 2018

Cuban-American pianist Antonio Iturrioz was a promising prodigy on the California scene whose career was derailed by a hand injury. With his understanding of the interplay between popular and classical idioms in Latin American music, he made an ideal candidate for the roster of the U.S. Steinway & Sons label with its exploration of century-old pianism. With his debut release for the label, Gottschalk and Cuba, he delivers a winner. There are several Gottschalk works here, including a piano transcription of the symphony A Night in the Tropics that goes back to a two-piano version of Gottschalk's own day. You might wish for a bit more drama in these, for Gottschalk the pianist was over the top. But the rest of the program is invaluable. Iturrioz includes not only Cuban composers influenced by Gottschalk, but one who influenced him (albeit with a work in homage to Gottschalk), Manuel Saumell. Along the way you are introduced to the contradanza and the danza, popular dances that have underlaid Cuban concert music for decades. A key figure is Hubert de Blanck, a Dutch expat who opened Cuba's first conservatory, knew Gottschalk's Cuban associates, and in turn taught Ernesto Lecuona, whose song Siempre en mi corazón almost won an Academy Award: Lecuona had the bad luck to be competing against "White Christmas." Many of Lecuona's songs exist as both vocal and piano versions, and Iturrioz catches the mix of melodicism, rhythmic roots, and harmonic subtlety effectively. Lecuona's sister and teacher, Ernestina Lecuona y Casada, is also represented. All the music is entertaining, and with the exception of the Gottschalk pieces, all are unknown, at least outside Cuba. Recommended.

-- AllMusic Guide
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