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Marietta VEULENS
Piano Cubano - De Algunas zonas del alma,
Pieza No.I (De algunas zonas del alma)
Música de los niños invisibles Parte I
Música de los niños invisibles Parte II
Pieza No.II (De algunas zonas del alma)
Campanas consonantes
La música de la No guerra
Desde la ventana (devastación) Parte I
Desde la ventana (devastación) Parte II
Tambores de invierno
Marietta Veulens (piano)
rec. no date given. Huntwood Farm Studios, London. UK. DDD
LORELT LNT 123 [58:06]


I am writing this at a time when Fidel Castro’s demise is being predicted worldwide. I find myself wondering what will happen in
Cuba in the years to come. Especially I wonder about the development of Cuban music and its composers. I speak as one who has visited this incredible country and I will immediately say that an especially joyous part of the Cuba experience was the music. There is a relatively small chasm between ‘popular’ music, including dances like the Salsa, and serious music which also uses dance forms. Of course one can hear Beethoven and Brahms in Cuba but I am speaking of contemporary composer/performers. In Cuba they are normally the same person and that is certainly the case with Marietta Veulens. She is a superb pianist as well a significant composer. I am now very sorry that I did not get to hear her in London on 1 April 2006 - a rare British performance.

We learn from the booklet notes that she was born and trained in Cuba but has been living in London since 1991. She is quoted as saying: “I was brought up in the traditions of classical occidental music”. She also writes about the importance of improvisation to her and her training. This is all relevant in grasping the ‘cross-over’ qualities between the music of her Cuban identity and the Western Music traditions she now embraces.

What we hear is a deep sense of longing and nostalgia, freely admitted to in the last of these nine pieces ‘Tamobores de invierro’ said to show the “emotional expression that transports the feelings for her origins and gives them, a new life in a new place (London)”. Again the notes put it well: that she is now “inspired by her experience in multicultural London”.

If you like Piazzolla you will find him lurking somewhere here in her use of fairly traditional often minor key harmony as well as in searching and leaping melodies. If you like Ludovico Einaudi likewise he is here in the meditative, minimalistic moods and the ecstatic repetitious cadences. These it seems take an age, or more finally to reach their close. Listen for example to the second part of Desde la ventura, subtitled Devastation.

Some pieces are dramatic, for instance Musica de la No Guerra which constitutes the work’s central panel. Here contrasting, extreme dynamics and low and high sounds are juxtaposed to create a sense of the defeat of war by a calculated peace. Other sections are purely meditative like Campanas Consonantes with its chiming, distant bell sounds. Gentle salsa rhythms are also used. They often add to the mood of withdrawal, desolation and loneliness which the composer mentions, as in De algunas zonas del almas.

Lorelt, founded in 1992, is guided by the trusted hands of Odaline de la Martinez - who has also translated the booklet notes - successful conductor and promoter of women in music. Already composers like Minna Keal and Nicola Lefanu have featured on this label and long may this continue.

The recording is adequate but is somewhat colourless and lacking in atmosphere, sometimes a little congested. Don’t let that that put you off though, because this is music with a strong, distinctive yet withdrawn character, suitable for concentrated listening or for dreamy contemplation. Well worth investigating.

Gary Higginson


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