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Piano music from Cuba -
reviewed by

'... undoubted technical command ...'

Recordando - Elena Casanova - Remembering the Maestros of Cuban Classical. © 2005 MSR Classics

Music in Cuba has a long history. Sacred music was composed for and performed in Santiago Cathedral in the mid 16th century, but it was not until the late 18th century that Cuba's first major composer, Esteban Salas, achieved fame through his considerable volume of church music. Others followed, and with the establishment of first the Academy of Music in Havana in 1814, and later the Santa Cecilia Academy, the classical and early romantic styles were cultivated, and composers began their fusion of Cuban folk songs and dance rhythms with classical forms.

Among the earliest major Cuban composers was Manuel Saumell, born in 1817, and the first to cultivate a nationalist voice in music. This recording features four of his piano pieces [listen -- track 15, 0:00-0:55].

The most important composer of the next generation was Ignacio Cervantes (1847-1905), a concert pianist, pupil of Gottschalk, and best known for the sets of Danzas cubanas he published between 1875-95, of which Los Tres Golpes must be typical [listen -- track 10, 0:00-1:14].

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Copyright © 13 November 2006 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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