Until his tragic and untimely death, Omar Hernández Hidalgo (1971-2010) was one the finest virtuoso violist of his country. Born and raised in Mexico, he received numerous scholarships, grants, and prizes from diverse cultural and institutional organizations such as FONCA, National Institute for the Fine Arts [INBA], Bancomer Cultural Foundation, External Affairs Department, Heinemann Foundation for Research, Educational and Scientific Purposes, and The Rockefeller Foundation. He was the winner of the 2004 Banff 's Centre Artistic Residence in Canada. The composer Pierre Boulez said about him, "Omar possesses a natural talent for the study and performance of difficult and complex music... I have no doubt that he will be the first of a new generation of specialized and advanced musicians in Mexico." He completed a Doctor of Music Degree in Viola at Indiana University under the tutelage of Professor Atar Arad. About The CD: The works included in this CD, as indicated by the title of one of them, are a "traveling journal" through the multiplicity of musical styles and languages that co-existed in Mexico during the twentieth century. Through this journey in sound, the viola and it's sonority tell us of "places" and "encounters" which are surprisingly different but also subtly complementary. The world of harmonics with an ethereal plasticity that is both medieval and neo-impressionist occurs in Cuaderno de viaje by Mario Lavista, while a more traditional narrative rhetoric is manifest in Canción en el puerto by Joaquín Gutiérrez-Heras. The expressive possibilities of a viola soliloquy-such as in Juan Cristóbal Cerrillo's Es preciso...-contrast with the vast number of timbral, textural, and organizational Possibilities of arranging the twelve-tone series exhibited in the Cuatro piezas by Manuel Enríquez. Other works range from the abstract lyricism and Simplicity of the neoclassical Madrigal by Carlos Chávez, the innocent Indianism of Hoja de album by Luis Sandi, and the romance of imaginary birds in Tres danzas seculares by Lavista. Nevertheless, first impressions are deceiving, as the saying goes, for the most recent work-Cuaderno de viaje (1984-2004)-has an archaic and quasi-medieval atmosphere within it's idiomatic exploration of harmonics, while the oldest composition in this CD-the Capricho en 4os., 8os. y 16vos. De tono (1928)-is the most progressive, experimental, and innovative of all. It is precisely Carrillo's Capricho that provided the impetus for recording this collection of modern Mexican works for the viola. It's preparation had to begin with a reconstruction and transcription into conventional notation of it's original numerical notational concept. Surrounding this seminal work by Carrillo, each one of the works in this collection contains a unique and individual musical identity. Together they reveal the magnitude of the modern Mexican musical landscape. It is our hope that this journey will be interesting and memorable for the curious and eager listener. Mario Lavista (b.1943) Tres danzas seculares (for cello and piano, transcribed for viola and piano by Omar Hernández-Hidalgo) I. Lento flessibile ed espressivo II. Allegro giocoso e leggiero III. Lentissimo-Presto delirando Tres danzas seculares (Three Secular Dances) has the purpose of making audible three moments in the courtship of imaginary birds. During the first movement, the two instruments engage in dialogue within a slow harmonic rhythm. The fast second movement is based on an ostinato on the pitch A, first in the viola and later in the piano, around which a countersubject displays a constantly changing meter. Finally, the slow-fast third movement starts with a homophonic introduction, after which a viola melody in harmonics leads to a three-voice canon. Each of the voices has it's own independent meter, which never coincides with the other two and gives the impression of motion at contrasting speeds. The score contains an epigraph by the English naturalist Gerald Durrell: "Birds are the Elizabethan lovers of the animal world: they attire themselves in magnificent costumes, dance, and exhibit themselves." The work was written in 1994, and was dedicated to the eminent Mexican cellist Carlos Prieto. On October 1, 2003, the version for viola and piano received it's world première by Omar Hernández-Hidalgo and pianist Mauricio Náder, during the festivities for the sixtieth anniversary of the Colegio Nacional. Carlos Chávez (1899-1978) Madrigal Composed in 1921, Madrigal was conceived as a lyrical piece with an intimate character. Nonetheless, it's style toys more with an ambiguous and contradictory atmosphere than with a nineteenth- century spirit. Chávez offers us a rather solemn composition, defined on the surface by it's melodic line, but with a harmony that never appears to decide on a tonal center. With great conceptual simplicity, the work moves towards bitonality, always expanding the traditional harmonic context but without letting go of it. In this manner, while the work stays within the European Romantic tradition in terms of rhythm and melody, it proposes a modernist approach in relation to a deliberate use of dissonance. The thematic austerity, extensive polyphony, rejection of melodic sentimentality, and use of vertical seconds, sevenths, and ninths would remain characteristic of Chávez's style throughout his career. The score used for this recording was published in 1983 by Carlanita Music Company, under the supervision of the composer's daughter Anita Chávez and Max Lifchitz. This work, originally written for cello and piano, also exists in a version for viola and piano arranged and revised by Chávez himself. Joaquín Gutiérrez-Heras (b.1927) Canción en el puerto Gutiérrez-Heras composed Canción en el puerto (Song in the harbor) in 1995 for cello and piano, with an alternative version for viola. He dedicated it to musicologist Yolanda Moreno Rivas. The work, almost a miniature, displays a compelling formal simplicity and a most tender expression. The dialogue between viola and piano has the character of an elegy, and remains always intimate, skillful, and lucid. Julián Carrillo (1875-1965) Concurso Viola Although written on 13 January 1908 in Mexico City, this romantic salon piece did not appear in any of the catalogs of Carrillo's viola music until the year 2001. In the lists compiled by Carrillo's daughter Lolita, and by important musicologists such as E. R. Blackaller and Gerald Benjamin, there were only references to the Estudios en 4os. De tono, the four Casi-sonatas en 4os. De tono for solo viola, and the Capricho en 4os. 8os. y 16vos. De tono. The title of the work, Concurso viola (Competition viola), seems confused or miswritten only on the surface. The titles of this and other similar works by Carrillo-such as Lectura a primera vista, concurso (Sight reading, competition) of 1908 for flute and piano, and Improvisación escrita para lectura o primera vista (Written improvisation for sight-reading) of 1909 for cello and piano-provide clues for their meaning. The composer's goal was to provide the students of the National Conservatory of Mexico with original and technically challenging material for their final exams (or competitions) in sight-reading. This explains the ambiguous title, in which Carrillo writes the designated instrument following the event's circumstances. Such argument is supported by the paragraph and dedication handwritten by Carrillo under the title of a parallel work for cello: Written Improvisation for Sight-Reading "For the cello competition of the National Conservatory of Music / To the notable cellist, Miss Josefina Pérez de León, a fair tribute to her talent." Luis Sandi (1905-1996) Hoja de álbum 2 Composed in 1958, Hoja de álbum 2 is part of a series of Hojas (Leaves), along with two others-Hoja de plata and Hoja de álbum-respectively cast for chamber ensemble and for cello and piano duo. In contrast to the vigorous triptych Hoja de plata, where one clearly discerns a neo-nationalist orientation, Hoja de álbum 2 for viola and piano is a sober exploration of the neoclassical style. Sandi develops the work's sonority through an expansion of the principal theme, inspired by mestizo music, with a quasi-programmatic intention. The works shows a clear tripartite plan, with an inner section imbued with reminiscences of French music. Juan Cristóbal Cerrillo (b. 1977) Es preciso... In the words of the composer, this solo viola composition composed in the year 2000 explores "the contrasts created by a single sonority and it's complement...There are two main ideas in the work, the cold-blooded and calculated manipulation of the material, in contrast with liberty and intuition." The version issued in this CD is the one that the composer reworked and perfected with Omar Hernández- Hidalgo for the première during the 23rd Forum of New Music "Manuel Enríquez" in 2001 in Mexico. The corrections and changes noted on the original score after this concert were included in the score published in 2003 by Ediciones Mexicanas de Música. Final modifications occurred during the preparation of this recording. Manuel Enríquez (1926-1994) Cuatro piezas para viola y piano I. Lento II. Con fuoco III. Allegretto misterioso-Allegro IV. Moderato rítmico Musicologist Leonora Saavedra asserts that "the chamber music of Manuel Enríquez is possibly the most experimental segment of his whole output." It is clear that the small number of performers allows Enríquez to test daring solutions to the issues of form, language, and notation, which he would later apply to longer works for larger ensembles. In the Four Pieces for viola and piano, such experimental approach coexists with his interest in the post-Webernian languages that prevailed in the 1960s. This aesthetic persuasion gave special importance to serialized parameters of timbre, texture and articulation, to the point of assigning to them the central thrust of the musical argument. Enríquez merged serial techniques with his interest in improvisation, and each of the Four Pieces is a brilliantly demonstration of this, especially the third, and all take the greatest advantage of the timbral possibilities of the viola and the piano. While serial techniques methodically organize the twelve tones of the temperate system, each one of the pieces reveals an overt sensuality and an affective expression. The Cuatro piezas para viola y piano were completed in Mexico City in November 1962. Mario Lavista Cuaderno de viaje I. Come un canto in lontananza, flessibile II. Volátil, sempre delicato e come da lontano Cuaderno de viaje (Travel journal) was written for the Italian violist Maurizio Barbetti in 1989, during an extended trip of Italy that Lavista took with his daughter Claudia, to whom the work is dedicated. It consists of two études exploring the natural harmonics of the viola, in both homophonic and polyphonic textures. It also obtains a wide variety of colors through diverse bow positions, from sul tasto through sul ponticello. Soon after the première, Lavista wrote a version for cello solo. In it's original version, Cuaderno de viaje was premièred by Maurizio Barbetti at the Gaudeamus Festival in The Netherlands in1990. In 2004 the work was extensively revised and finally published by Ediciones Mexicanas de Música in an edition by Omar Hernández-Hidalgo. Julián Carrillo (1875-1965) Capricho para viola en 4os., 8os. y 16vos. De tono2 In spite of it's revolutionary contribution to modern music, the microtonal works of Julian Carrillo have suffered from genteel neglect by specialists, performers, and audiences after his death. This lack of understanding can be generally attributed to the fact that his microtonal works were written in a non-conventional notation based on numbers, rather than on traditional musical symbols. The composer, in a quest for a "perfect" notational system, reached the polemical conclusion that the traditional notation displayed glaring deficiencies and discrepancies with acoustical laws, and was in need of rectification. In consequence, the scores that feature it have remained in historical isolation, which has trapped the composer's musical, theoretical, and aesthetic thought. Waiting for decoding and transcription to the more widely adopted microintervallic notations which were developed after the composer's passing. The Capricho para viola en 4tos, 8vos, y 16avos de tono, composed in 1928 and written exclusively in numbers, is one of the most stunning works for viola in the Latin American repertoire. The composition is a tour de force representing a peak in the universal and Mexican literature for viola. It demonstrates not only the theories and techniques of composition promoted by Carrillo, but also his investigation and superior application of quarter-, eighth- and sixteenth-tone microintervals to string instruments. It shows a very deep understanding of the tone subdivisions applied to the viola. This CD includes the world première recording of the first transcription of the Capricho into mainstream microtonal notation, made by Omar Hernández- Hidalgo as a proposal towards a fresh appreciation of Carrillo's extraordinary contribution to twentieth-century music in Latin America and the world.