Columbia Viva! Volume Two — Personal Connections

Pianist Mauricio Arias-Esguerra doubles down on his second Columbia Viva! release. Volume one featured piano music by Columbian composers. This release features piano music commissioned by Arias-Esguerra from Columbian composers. 

Naturally, these are all world-premiere recordings. And what a selection! Arias-Esguerra presents a wide-ranging selection of styles. 

Some of the composers built their work within a framework of Columbian folk music. For others, the connection is far removed (if still present). And for a few, only their own personalities are expressed without a hint of national origin.

One of my favorite tracks is “Danzas Fugitavas” by Carolina Noguera. She’s interested in repurposing sounds to give them new meaning. Her work is rhythmic, but not symmetric. Some of it’s tonal, some not. And sometimes the performer plays inside the piano. It’s an exciting mix.

Juan Antonio Cuéllar’s Three Encores in C was another standout for me (your mileage may vary). Although set in the “easiest” key, these encores are quite complex. Cuéllar uses thick harmonies that sometimes blur the tonal center. There’s an element of jazz running through these. But it’s the coloring, not the foundation. 

Arias-Esguerra’s personal connection to these composers takes his performance to the next level. His playing is superb and malleable. Arias-Esguerra easily matched his technique to the style of each individual work. 

This disc has given me some more composers I need to explore.

Columbia Viva! Volume Two
Mauricio Arias-Esguerra, piano
Toccata Next TOCN0024

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