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Ramon Lazkano

Jeune Orchestre National d'Espagne/Pablo Gonzales
Ur Loak
Orquestra da Cambra Teatre Lliure/Josep Pons
Lisa Kerob, violon/Thierry Amadi, violoncelle
Orchestre de Bilbao/Juan Jose Mena

Le Chante du Monde LCD 2781147 (distribution Harmonia Mundi)

Note on back of jewel case: There is Euskadian land in these highly unusual works. Depending on whether one is looking at the steep 1. coastline or the hills of oak, this music reveals insistent rhythms - sometimes at odds with this geography - which contribute to creating a burning coldness, or it reveals orchestral savors that suggest a doubt just beneath the surface of its subtle constructions. Shimmering instrumental ripples and a certain architectural sense reveal a rare lucidity and abolish time by welcoming us to a world we thought was long gone. Some pages remind us of Aizkorri, that Basque mountain supposedly inhabited by the storm spirit whom we can conjure by climbing up the mountain's slopes; the power is so concentrated that we dread future eruptions.                             

, pour 8 musiciens • Sorginkeriak, pour 6 musiciens • Ilargi Uneak, trois pièces pour piano • Hizpide, pour flûte en sol, alto et guitare • Izotz, pour quatuor à cordes • Bihurketak, pour violon, violoncelle et piano ASM-Ensemble de Moscou, Alexeï Vinogradov, dir.

Le Chante du Monde LCD 2781109 (distribution Harmonia Mundi)      


We don't have many opportunities to listen to the music of Basque composer Ramon Lazkano in UK, but each hearing has left a powerful impression. He held Villa Medici Academy residences in Rome for reflection and study, focusing mainly on thoughts about 'intertextuality and the saturation, silence and experience of sound and time', giving birth to 'emblematic pieces such as Ilunkor and Lur-Itzalak for violin & cello', which features on his latest CD, and is as striking a duo in readily accessible contemporary idiom as you'll find.

There are two monographic CDs, both highly recommendable. This is a composer who asserts his own personality and with a certain tenacity sticks to it. The pieces often have a rigorous obsessionality, but they develop, sometimes as it were by stealth, and he is far from the minimalists or the dogmatic serialists.

At Strasbourg a concert by The Chamber Orchestra of the Theatre Lliure from Barcelona, conductor Josep Pons, introduced a piece by the young Basque composer Ramon Lazkano for solo bass flute and bass clarinet with doubled group of strings and percussion, which made the strongest impression. The prevailing colours were dark and it grew into a genuine allegro (so much contemporary music is basically slow, with fast figuration superimposed!) and after a pause a dreamy, quiet ending with finger drumming. Entitled in Basque Illargi Uneak, it is featured on the first CD, recorded by the pioneering Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, a collection which showed that Lazkano had something personal to say and his own way to say it, confirming my feeling that was definitely a name to watch out for. I looked forward to keeping in touch with his development and the new CD, received unsolicited, is a splendid confirmation of my hunch.

At a Luis de Pablo celebration recital at the San Sebastian Festival we heard Laskano's El Cuarto Monologo for solo piano, which took as its structural starting point the noise which every pianist has experienced accidentally, or deliberately perhaps when feeling frustrated, by stamping hard on the sustaining pedal and hearing the resonances which emerge beneath the lid. This is a piece which was so striking that it would be worth introducing to advanced piano students to enlarge their appreciation of the intrinsic capabilities of their chosen instrument.

The present selection is of compositions 1998-2003. Besides the string duo Lur-Itzalak there are works for Spain's National Youth Orchestra (no concessions required of listeners), the Orchestra of Lliure (cond. Josep Pons) and the Bilbao Orchestra (cond. Juan Jose Mena). Exciting music all, and well varied to make an hour's music to listen to straight through and then play again.

One significant (and far from unique) reservation which may militate against distribution and sales. This CD (unlike the first) carries text in Fench only! Reduction of the grossly excessive biographical material - eight pages of it - would allow plenty of space for translation of Ramon Lazkano's notes about his music. His own biog (2 full pages) is in translation at http://www.mapage.noos.fr/lazkano/ingelera/bio-eng.html

Perhaps the notes should, at the vvery least, be put upon Chant du Monde's website - if they have one?? There seem to be problems in Spain about catching up with the internet revolution. Neither Lazkano nor his mentor Luis de Pablo have websites with discographies and contact info.

If I'm wrong, perhaps someone will kindly advise me? If not, do purchase these CDs anyway, you will not be disappointed.


© Peter Grahame Woolf