Music Reviews

Noella Rodiles Continues to Surprise

A growing number of Spain’s classical prominence has gained worldwide recognition thanks to Gonzalo Noqué, the driving force behind the Spanish audiophile label, Eudora Records. Noelia Rodiles is one of them. I’ve greatly admired her interpretation of Schubert’s Moments Musicaux D.780 (Rodiles 1823) with which she joined in my view the ranks of Schubert notables. Still, her reach is much farther than that, as I (and not just me) noted in another Eudora recording ‘The Butterfly Effect’. With this new release, she continues to surprise with her rendition of two concerti by Hispanic composers: Julián Orbón de Soto of Cuban nationality but spending much of his productive life in Spain and his younger Spanish colleague, Manuel Martínez Burgos.

Not all contemporary music from the second half of the previous century has captured my interest. I’ve listened to several that did not ring my bell, to put it mildly. In those days, innovation seemed to be de rigueur. There is nothing wrong with that if it weren’t for the fact that for some, notably in some parts of Western Europe, it became a goal in itself. Their ‘creative innovations’, were being published with much aplomb and a disdain for those who did not ‘understand’ their twists of art. But for my ears, they had little else to communicate than ‘noise’. Innovation for the sake of it without any artistic idea behind it.

Saved from Oblivion

Orbón followed a different path. He has something to communicate. His Partite No. 4, a Symphonic Movement for Piano and Orchestra, commissioned, composed and premiered in 1985 by the Dallas Symphony under the baton of Eduardo Mata, turned out to be an immediate success. However, after repeats in some of the great Halls in Europe and the death of the Mexican conductor, it somehow fell out of grace. All that was left was a 1989 Olympia recording (OCD 351).

In her preface, Noelia writes that she found the full score in the library of Indiana University Bloomington, embracing it from the very start. The title is deceptive. The Movement is a monumental 23-minute piece, the same length as, for instance, a three-movement Mozart Piano Concerto. Moreover, ‘Symphonic’ suggests that the orchestra gets an equal part in the common effort. It thus falls on the shoulders of Lucas Macias, the conductor of the Oviédo Filharmonía, to guide his musicians into shaping, side by side with the soloist, a mysteriously medieval atmosphere alternating with a dazzlingly modernist work. The result is remarkable.

I’d never heard it before, but contemporary as it is, it has an immediate appeal. Listening to this reimagining of old into new, one gets the feeling that the Partita has become part of Sra Rodiles herself! Her playing is sensitive and brilliant as the score demands. At the same time, this wonderful work highlights an orchestra I also had never heard of before. It is one of Spain’s still existing traditional City Orchestras (Orquesta Sinfónica Ciudad de Oviédo) with an attractive and well-balanced sonority. I cannot compare it with the Olympia recording (possibly no longer available), but one thing is sure, we may count ourselves lucky to have the Partita No.4 once more on record, but this time in a superior resolution.

Burgos’s Tolling Bells Premiered for All

Manuel Burgos is from a different age when many composers returned to the core of their trade, composing music. Unlike previously mentioned ‘innovators’, he clearly did have an idea on why and how to let his in 2021 composed ‘Cloches’ toll. Was Orbón’s Partita built on concepts from the pre-Baroque era (O Magnum Mysterium), the idea behind Manuel Burgos’s piano concerto goes even further back in time. “From the beginning of our era until recently”, writes the composer in his introduction to the score, “the bell has been .. a privileged instrument of mass communication” .. “part of the soundscape of cities and towns since they distinguish themselves from other sound productions”, giving several examples, be they religious, civil, or simply marking time. My appetite was whetted.

This work is indeed turn-of-the-century modern, capturing the listener’s attention in its diverse facets. Nonetheless, I needed several listening sessions to grasp the essence and above all, how Noelia plays a central role in her interaction with her fellow orchestral percussionists (yes, the piano, too, is a percussion instrument) and to sustain a dialogue with the orchestra. Each time I listened, I discovered something new, like receiving new messages from near and far away in a sometimes-misty valley, getting more urgently alarming toward the end of the first movement. The second movement takes us to the bells of the Santa Maria church in Wamba, a township in the Province of Valladolid the autonomous region of Castille-et-León in Spain. Such magic from all sides, the composer, the soloist, the conductor, and the committed members of the Oviédo Symphony.

As for the “Grand volée de cloches à Notre-Dame de Paris”, the final movement in three parts, we hope that the sound of Emmanuel, the great bell of the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris (and the second largest bell of France) will soon sound like it did before the tragic fire that devasted this cathedral in 2019. In the meantime, we must make do with the vision of Manuel Burgos as so passionately performed by Noella and her supporting forces.

Need I say something about the sound quality? It’s Eudora’s. That’s enough.

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France

Copyright © 2024 Adrian Quanjer and

Written by

Adrian Quanjer

Adrian Quanjer is a site reviewer at HRAudio, with many years of experience in classical music. He writes from his country retreat at Blangy-le-Château, France. As a regular concertgoer, he prefers listening to music in the highest possible resolution to recreate similar involvement at home. He is eager to share his thoughts with like-minded melomaniacs at NativeDSD.


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