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Leonardo Balada: Symphony No. 6; Concerto for Three Cellos; Steel Symphony / Galicia, Barcelona Symphonies; López-Cobos; Berlin Radio SO; Jensen

Album Summary

>Balada, Leonardo : Symphony no 6 ("Symphony of Sorrows")
>Balada, Leonardo : Concerto for 3 cellos & orchestra ("A German Concerto")
>Balada, Leonardo : Steel Symphony
Performers Conductors Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The ‘romantic avant-gardism’ of Barcelona-born Leonardo Balada pairs complex techniques with a very direct emotional impact. These characteristics have often been employed in exploring the impact of historical events, none more so than the wars of the 20th century. Symphony No. 6 ‘Symphony of Sorrows’ (Dedicated to the Innocent Victims of the Spanish Civil War) embeds traditional melodic ideas in a coruscating single-movement exploration of the tragedies of war. The Steel Symphony reflects the sonorities – in an abstract, non-programmatic way – of Pittsburgh’s steel foundries, while the Concerto for Three Cellos, inspired by Germany’s recovery after two catastrophic world wars, combines complex techniques in a vivid work of almost surrealistic transformations.



Reviews

A unique compositional voice
This release features two of his symphonies, as well as a concerto for three cellos. All have Balada's highly idiosyncratic style, which can take a little getting used to. Like other post-modern composers, Balada's comfortable mixing compositional elements rather than choosing to stick with one school or the other.

Symphony No. 6, "Symphony of Sorrows" (2005) is a good example of this. Finished in 2005, the work has elements that remind me Lutoslawski, with a dash of Varese and a healthy dose of Catalan folk music thrown in. The composition moves freely from clearly tonal to nearly-atonal sections. And yet it all works. Balada knows exactly where he's going and how he's going to get there.

The same is true of his Steel Symphony (1975) written 30 years earlier. It starts with an orchestra apparently tuning up (at first I thought it was a live recording). But it's really order rising out of chaos. "Steel" is indeed the word for this work. The brass instruments have a hard edge to their sound. The strings, when playing pizzicato, have a brittle ensemble sound, and the work overall conveys the concept of hard metal.

The 2006 Concerto for Three Cellos falls somewhere between those two extremes. The tonal sections aren't quite as accessible as those of the Sixth Symphony, yet the atonal passages aren't as harsh as they are in the Steel Symphony. In one section Balada has the three solo cellos playing in the upper extreme of their registers, creating a delicate, ethereal and almost ghostly sound.

Although I cite composers that Balada reminds me of, in no way is his music derivative. It's just the only way I can find to describe his music. So if you like Lutoslawski, Martinů, Górecki, Stravinsky, Varčse , or Ginastera (or at least elements thereof), you should definitely give Balada a listen.
Submitted on 02/13/15 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Balada, Leonardo : Symphony no 6 ("Symphony of Sorrows")
  • Conductor: Jesús López-Cobos
  • Ensemble: Barcelona Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 18 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 2005
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Balada, Leonardo : Concerto for 3 cellos & orchestra ("A German Concerto")
  • Performers: Hans-Jakob Eschenburg (Cello); Michael Sanderling (Cello); Wolfgang Schmidt (Cello)
  • Conductor: Eivind Jensen
  • Ensemble: Galicia Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 21 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2006

>Balada, Leonardo : Steel Symphony
  • Conductor: Jesús López-Cobos
  • Ensemble: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 19 min. 42 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1972