Julio Estrada: Canto naciente (1975-78)
Audio provided by New York’s Q2 Music at q2music.org:
George Wellington (technical director), Chase Culpon (mix engineer), Bill Moss
This “nascent song” finds its nascence in the note A flat, intoned by three trumpets with different, changing dynamic profiles. As Estrada imagines it, the trumpets are at three of the corners of a cube, the other five being similarly occupied by brass instruments: two horns, two trombones, and a tuba. Done that way, with the audience within the cube, the effect would surely be spectacular, though the piece certainly packs a punch when the staging is more practical.
At this point in his career, Estrada was preoccupied with pitch groupings—with intervals, harmonies, and scales in constant evolution, still within the system of twelve-semitone equal temperament. In the context of tonight’s program, Canto naciente will undoubtedly appear the most pitch-centric work, the closest to a traditional vocabulary of melody and harmony. At the same time, though, in its might and its elemental progress, it may also seem, as much as the less conservative works, to scan back to long-forgotten traditions. The nascent song is a lost song.
Playing continuously for around twelve minutes, the piece moves through various phases. As the trumpets start to move away from their initial note, and as their colleagues join them, the piece begins to sound like a giant fugue, coalescing into a central section of slow, weighty harmonies. With a turn to repeating notes, in many different rhythms, the music becomes more vehement, before it settles back into its original scoring in the neighborhood of its original pitch, disappearing as a major third.