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Posted January 20, 2014
Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra writes in an original post-romantic style that reminds me of Villa-Lobos and Chavez -- but only a little. "Fandangos" which opens the album may be inspired by the music of Spain, but it's no pastiche. Sierra incorporates characteristic melodic turns into his music, giving it spice. The feel of the dance is there, making this a rousing curtain-raiser.
The Sinfonia No. 4 also has some Spanish elements in it. the third movement "Tiempo de Bolero" for example, emulates the rhythms of that dance. And the final movement uses gestures from Latino dance orchestra -- the piano playing rhythmic punctuations in octaves, and extensive use of Latin percussion, such as bongos, congas, and claves.
"Carnaval" is a set of five characteristic pieces, each one representing a fantastical monster. Each movement is a brilliant miniature, painting a vivid portrait of its subject through Sierra's skillful orchestrations.