Notes & Reviews:
Transits: Minimal to Mayhem, his fifth full Navona Records release, is an abridged sequence of five works from a set time and concrete place that maps composer Sergio Cervetti's creative progression over four decades of composing. The Concertino for piano, woodwinds and timpani (2013) is a rowdy and raucous array of South American rhythms tempered by a tender quote from Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder. One of Cervetti's last minimalist works, Exiles (1980) begins with a slow piano rendition of a melodic theme from the Uruguayan patriotic song Mi Bandera, which is soon overwhelmed by electronic textures. In contrast, 1975's Guitar Music, (the bottom of the iceberg) is an early minimalist work for solo guitar that experiments with "restricted pitch-classes". The two works completing the album are based on the history and culture of the Río de la Plata where Cervetti was born and raised. El Río de los Pájaros Pintados (1979) seamlessly integrates the bandoneón with electronics. Candombe for Orchestra is the 1996 orchestration of Candombe for Harpsichord (1984), both works indebted to a Uruguayan national dance of African origin.
American Record Guide, September/October 2015
His Concertino (2013) sounds a bit like John Adams's brand of minimalism, and he reaches the extreme end of the stylistic spectrum with his Guitar Music (The Bottom of the Iceberg) (1980). The guitarist quickly repeats the same pitch on two strings, creating a stream of notes that serves as the piece's center. Slowly, Cervetti works outward from this central pitch, adding harmony through rhythmic patterns. Eventually the center shifts, signaling an important formal moment in the work. Rapid ostinato figures come and go, and the piece ends a fourth lower than it started. In all of his music on the record, Cervetti never even approaches mayhem; in fact, he composes quite carefully. The music is busy, especially in the Concertino for piano, woodwinds, and timpani. The entire ensemble shifts quickly from one idea to the next, turning on a dime to change character completely. Earlier works tend to maintain a steadier temperament. Exiles (1980), for piano and electronics, and El Rio de los Pajaros Pintados (1979), for bandoneon and electronics, are ambient meditations on Uruguayan tunes and dances. Candombe (1996), for orchestra, is bright, optimistic, and playful. This record covers the span of Cervetti's career and style.