One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Reger Violin Sonatas
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
9 cello sonatas
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Roberto SIERRA (b.1953)
Fandangos, for orchestra (2000) [11:07]
Sinfonía no.4 (2008-09) [23:12]
Carnaval, for orchestra (2007) [21:13]
Nashville Symphony/Giancarlo Guerrero
rec. Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee, 19-21 April 2012; 20-22 September 2012 (Carnaval)
Roberto SIERRA (b.1953)
New Music with a Caribbean Accent
Vestigios Rituales, for two pianos (1984) [8:00]
Conjuros, for soprano and piano (1982) [10:05]
Trío Tropical, for violin, cello and piano (1981) [17:33]
Cinco Bocetos, for solo clarinet (1984) [8:53]
Glosa a la Sombra, for mezzo, clarinet, viola and piano (1987) [9:59]
Descarga, for piano and ten instruments (1987/1990) [12:42]
Continuum (Virginia Gutiérrez (soprano), Ellen Lang (mezzo), David Krakauer (clarinet), Mark Steinberg (violin), Mia Wu (viola), Maria Kitsopoulos (cello), Cheryl Seltzer (piano), Joel Sachs (piano))
rec. American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, January and November 1991

There is a fair amount of Puerto Rico's finest composer Roberto Sierra available across a number of labels. That said, he is most likely to appear in anthologies rather than the monograms his music merits. These two Naxos discs, one brand-new, one first released half a dozen years ago, represent fifty per cent of this ever-obliging label's releases to date dedicated to Sierra's works. As can be seen, New Music with a Caribbean Accent is a relatively old recording, originally issued by the Musical Heritage Society in 1992. In 2007 Naxos repackaging gave it a new lease of life, at the same time kicking off their de-facto-biennial series devoted to Sierra. A new and excellent recording of his Missa Latina ensued (see review), followed by a disc of piano trios performed by the Trio Arbós. The latter programme included, curiously, a second recording of the Trío Tropical, Sierra's first Piano Trio (review).
The earliest work on either of the present discs is indeed theTropical. Its lurching, hammered rhythm in the opening bars segues into a lilting Latino-jazz section and announces immediately a composer of considerable originality. As the name suggests, its three movements incorporate rhythms and colours of Sierra's childhood in Puerto Rico.
Though this work is highly suitable to wider audiences, there is another side to Sierra's music. This is the more modernist approach that can be heard in the other Piano Trios and in more obviously atonal works like Cuentos; the latter released in excellent sound on a Dorian Sono Luminus anthology in the late Nineties (DOR-93230). That same recording also featured Arturo Márquez's less well known Danzón no.4, similar in style to the No.2 made famous by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra. This is worth mentioning here because Sierra's superbly orchestrated Fandangos - so-called after the celebrated pieces by Antonio Soler (attributed) and Boccherini on which it is based - is very much in the same vein. Fandangos had a big-audience airing at the first night of the BBC Proms in 2002, but since then it has been undeservedly neglected by orchestras.
Whereas Sierra's recent orchestral music indicates a more listener-orientated approach to writing, the earlier works on New Music with a Caribbean Accent are much more demanding. There is still plenty of evidence of Sierra's European training, including composition study under György Ligeti, in the Sinfonía no.4 and Carnaval. Even so, both works are sufficiently tonal and melodic to appeal to a reasonably broad church. The earlier disc is a tougher nut, as the opening Vestigios Rituales, a ferociously virtuosic work for two pianos, immediately clarifies. It is stunningly performed by Continuum's two directors, Cheryl Seltzer and Joel Sachs, for whom it was written. They and their fellow musicians are up against it, indeed, in almost every bar of Sierra's chamber works. In almost all instances they are more than equal to its challenges - technically brilliant and highly receptive to the wildly inventive Sierra. In fact, both CDs are characterised by first-rate musicianship. The Nashville Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero is well worth anyone's money too.
The seven short songs that constitute Conjuros are arguably the only misfire anywhere. This is not helped by soprano Virginia Gutiérrez. She sounds frankly uninspired by the rather monotone ("delicately colored") invented language intended to evoke Afro-Cuban ritual chants. Mezzo Ellen Lang is much more convincing in Glosa a la Sombra, even allowing for her non-native accent. The full, depressing, sung text is kindly included with an English translation in the booklet. David Krakauer makes a pretty good job of the relatively accessible Bocetos for solo clarinet, although the sound is better on a more recent monograph from Fleur de Son Classics (FDS 57978). It is played there by Richard Faria, dedicatee of Sierra's Clarinet Sonata which is available on the same disc.
In the end, New Music with a Caribbean Accent is much more 'new music' than 'Caribbean accent'. The final track, the rhythmically boisterous Descarga ('unloading/release' … of energy), is arguably the most Caribbean-sounding by some distance. Ironically, it is also one of Sierra's most explicitly atonal works. Thus, newcomers to Sierra are probably better off initially with the orchestral disc, or indeed the Piano Trios or Missa Latina. However, these and New Music with a Caribbean Accent all confirm Sierra as Puerto Rico's most valuable musical export.
Contact at

Previous review (8559263): Dan Morgan

Reviews of Sierra on Naxos American Classics