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Evencio Castellanos: Santa Cruz de Pacairigua; El Rio de los Siete Estrellas; Suite Avileña

Album Summary

>Castellanos, Evencio : Santa Cruz de Pacairigua (Holy Cross of Pacairigua), symphonic suite
>Castellanos, Evencio : El Rio de las Siete Estrellas, for orchestra
>Castellanos, Evencio : Suite Avilena, for orchestra
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Evencio Castellanos belonged to the generation of Venezuelan composers who established a new nationalistic style in the first half of the 20th century. One of his best known works, Santa Cruz de Pacairigua pays homage to the construction of a church in Guatire, near Caracas, quoting popular dance rhythms and melodies, as well as a Venezuelan medieval carol. El Río de las Siete Estrellas (The River of the Seven Stars), inspired by a poem about the Orinoco River, describes events of precolonial Venezuelan history leading up to the country's independence in 1821. The Suite Avileña, a compilation of scenes alluding to the coastal mountain of El Ávila, borrows from popular songs and Christmas carols, and features the cuatro (a four stringed version of the European classical guitar) and maracas, two of the most typical Venezuelan folk instruments.

it's all good fun, and the performances, by the only team in town likely familiar with the music, are vital, confident, and unapologetically gutsy. Jan Wagner wisely keeps things moving and lets the orchestra strut its stuff. A nice discovery, this.

Classical Lost and Found
Conductor Jan Wagner gets stunning performances of this little-known music from the Venezuelan Symphony Orchestra. His attention to rhythmic as well as dynamic detail in the two tone poems, and sensitive handling of the suite guarantee these luxuriant scores never become overromanticized.

this work... is carefully constructed and well orchestrated... The Orquesta Sinf=nica de Venezuela under Jan Wagner plays all the music idiomatically and with understanding and enthusiasm.

David's Review Corner
They mainly use pastel colours and take their lineage from French Impressionism, and though the much informative sleeve note assures us they use national folk music, you will have a surprise when the Christmas carol, Adeste Fideles appears. The large Venezuela Sinfonica - which originates back in 1930 - is an ensemble of high quality and they have been splendidly recorded. We need lots more South American music from them.

Fanfare Magazine - Phillip Scott
This is extremely well-crafted music - Castellanos knew how to orchestrate to maximum effect - and Wagner and the Venezuelan orchestra play it with commitment and flair. The sound is spacious and full, one of Naxos's better-balanced orchestral recordings. This disc is worth keeping for its pure escapism. It represents another plus from Naxos, which has given us such excellent recordings ...

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Central University of Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela.


Notable orchestral music from Venezuela
Most classical music fans know Venezuela as the home of the extraordinary music education scheme El Sistema, which helped to create today's biggest classical music rock-star, the conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Now we're learning more about the mid-20th century classical music traditions in Venezuela upon which El Sistema was based.

Two of the three great Venezuelan composers born between 1915 and 1917 are fairly well known: the guitarist Antonio Lauro and composer/conductor Antonio EstÚvez, who wrote the famous Cantata Criolla. A third is Evencio Castellanos, a pianist and teacher, and, from the evidence on this new Naxos disc, a writer of impressive orchestral music.

Santa Cruz de Pacairigua from 1954 is a work jammed full of "local colur": folk dances, a medieval church tune, and plenty of percussion, all following a program about the building of a church. The Suite Avilena, written in 1947, contains a series of characteristic pieces representing various locations between Caracas and the sea.

The best work on the disc, though, is the 1946 work El Rio de las Siete Estrellas (The River of the Seven Stars). As often happens with music inspired by a river (Villa-Lobos's Amazon or Smetana's Moldau, for example) the representation of a strong current provides a structure for programmatic incidents that might otherwise seem unconnected.

I know the conductor Jan Wagner from a Bridge disc of orchestral music by Villa-Lobos, which coincidentally shares many characteristics with this one. The Bridge CD featured the Odense Symphony, which he led before and after the turn of the century. In this new Naxos disc he conducts the excellent Orqeusta Sinfonica de Venezuela, who play quite spendidly for their Danish leader. Wagner makes sure the music sparkles, for these are indeed showpieces, but he takes the time to emphasize Castellanos's more reflective moods. Aaron Copland once complained that Latin American music too often alternated between "the languorously sentimental or the wildly orgiastic mood, with very little in between". Wagner makes sure to present the subtleties that Castellanos, at his very best, does contain.
Submitted on 02/14/12 by Dean Frey 
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Works Details

>Castellanos, Evencio : Santa Cruz de Pacairigua (Holy Cross of Pacairigua), symphonic suite
  • Conductor: Jan Wagner
  • Ensemble: Venezuela Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Central University of Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela (07/19/2010-07/21/2010)
  • Running Time: 17 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1954

>Castellanos, Evencio : El Río de las Siete Estrellas, for orchestra
  • Conductor: Jan Wagner
  • Notes: Central University of Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela (07/22/2010-07/26/2010)
  • Running Time: 14 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1946

>Castellanos, Evencio : Suite Avileña, for orchestra
  • Conductor: Jan Wagner
  • Notes: Central University of Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela (07/26/2010-07/28/2010)
  • Running Time: 23 min. 42 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1947