Come see The Symphony feature a special, yet familiar, guest when Principal Conductor Guillermo Figueroa takes the podium with violin in hand. Cordero’s Ínsula Tropical features Figueroa’s talents so well you’d think it was written for him—which, in part, it was! The afternoon begins with a familiar favorite from Mozart, his Symphony No. 36, and concludes (appropriately for the season)
with Schumann’s “Spring” Symphony, which the composer said depicts “the world’s turning green.”
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This work is a ‘combined’ concerto, made up of movements from two different works by Ernesto Cordero, Concertino Tropical (1998) and Ínsula, Suite Concertante (2007). At the suggestion of violinist Guillermo Figueroa, to whom the original Ínsula is dedicated, the composer approved the assemblage of the new Ínsula Tropical, which combines the first and last movements of Concertino with the two middle movements of Ínsula, Suite Concertante, as well as a mixture of the two names. The combined Ínsula Tropical was premiered by Guillermo Figueroa at the Music from Angel Fire summer festival, also in 2009.
The first movement, Yerba bruja, is dominated by a rhythmic cell or pattern 3-2-2, a syncopated rhythm very common in traditional Afro-Caribbean music. This rhythmic cell has a great influence in the melodic and harmonic structure which is very modal. The movement ends with a quite emotional and virtuosic cadenza followed by a classical recapitulation.
The second movement is called Jájome, after a mountainous ridge located at the center of the Island. The relaxing peace and serenity permeating this zone, turns it into an ideal meditation site. Upon this lovely spot in the town of Cayey, sprinkled as it is with impressionist and extemporizing elements, rises the contemplative character that distinguishes this movement. I love to imagine an afternoon right in this place, where Guillermo and myself where listening to Erik Satie playing his “Gymnopedies” at the piano, and frankly admit that this wonderful thought did influence this movement.
The third movement, Fantasi Salsera, is based in the Afro-Caribbean aspect of our insular musical culture. Because of this, the syncopated, rhythms and harmonic sequences that characterize the Caribbean music denominated by the inclusive term of “Salsa” are emphasized. At the middle part of this composition, there is a change of atmosphere and rhythm identified as “lento Giocoso”. The creative element in this section is born from the violin’s open strings (sol, re, la, mi). The work ends with a recapitulation which retakes the Afro-Caribbean element.
The fourth movement, El colibri dorado (The Golden Humming-Bird), is a moto perpetuo. Barely lasting a minute and half, it is the shortest and most virtuosic part of the work. The soloist runs, with great velocity and without interruption, through all the registers of the instrument, while the string orchestra maintains the harmonic support.