Twentieth-Century Mexican Music for Viola

The works included in this CD, as indicated by the title of one of them, are a “traveling journal” through the multiplicity of musical styles and languages that co-existed in Mexico during the twentieth century. Through this journey in sound, the viola and its sonority tell us of “places” and “encounters” which are surprisingly different but also subtly complementary. The world of harmonics with an ethereal plasticity that is both medieval and neo-impressionist occurs in Cuaderno de viaje by Mario Lavista, while a more traditional narrative rhetoric is manifest in Canción en el puerto by Joaquín Gutiérrez-Heras. The expressive possibilities of a viola soliloquy—such as in Juan Cristóbal Cerrillo’s Es preciso…—contrast with the vast number of timbral, textural, and organizational possibilities of arranging the twelve-tone series exhibited in the Cuatro piezas by Manuel Enríquez. Other works range from the abstract lyricism and simplicity of the neoclassical Madrigal by Carlos Chávez, the innocent Indianism of Hoja de álbum 2 by Luis Sandi, and the romance of imaginary birds in Tres danzas seculares by Lavista. Nevertheless, first impressions are deceiving, as the saying goes, for the most recent work—Cuaderno de viaje  (1989-2004)—has an archaic and quasi-medieval atmosphere within its idiomatic exploration of harmonics, while the oldest composition in this CD—the Capricho en 4os., 8os. y 16vos. de tono (1928)—is the most progressive, experimental, and innovative of all.


It is precisely Carrillo’s Capricho that provided the impetus for recording this collection of modern Mexican works for the viola. Its preparation had to begin with a reconstruction and transcription into conventional notation of its original numerical notational concept. Surrounding this seminal composition by Carrillo, each one of the works in this collection contains a unique and individual musical identity. Together they reveal the magnitude of the modern Mexican musical landscape. It is our hope that this journey will be interesting and memorable for the curious and eager listener.


Program notes by Omar Hernández-Hidalgo, with contributions by Mario Lavista for Tres danzas Seculares and Cuaderno de viaje.