El Colombiano, Rafael Vega, 2004
As was the case in other times, international pianists no longer come to Medellín, but we are having enough local harvest, although not all of them are heard frequently. Last Wednesday, EAFIT -Always EAFIT- presented Andrés Gómez Bravo, from Medellin, from a family of musicians, in a relevant recital, not only because of the luxury program, but also because of the height in the interpretation of four very different works, with a remarkable musical background and piano quality. With the only one in classical style the Sonata No. 60 in C major, Hob. Haydn's XVI: 50 began the recital with total mastery of the keyboard, imaginatively following the labyrinths and variations that Haydn devises in the prodigious first movement, which appears to be superficial, but in reality his combinations are magnificently elaborate.
Gómez marked the dynamics well but discreetly, showed controlled lyricism in the second adagio movement, and played the finale with grace. However, he was more convincing with his pianism from now on with a spirited and profound version of one of the program's novelties: La Trocha, by Victor Agudelo, paisa born in 1978; A formally undefined piece, with many harmonic aspects, with spirited and mysterious rhythmic themes, but suggestive of indefinite dances, tinged with harmonies that border on Debussy like impressionism. This broad modern flavor was understood by the pianist by playing with dedication and mastering the tremendous pianistic difficulties that are very demanding. It could be a piece of repertoire for whoever can play it. Then Gómez increased the tension of the recital with the immense piece by Liszt "El Valleé d'Obermann", the last part of "Years of Pilgrimage", with a lot of piano content, with vibrant lyrical incursions and lucubrations of emotional value, expressed on a keyboard that it is almost not enough for its objective and where Liszt shows one of his best piano effects of special emotional depth.
Absolute cleanliness, technique put to the maximum test, was what Gómez Bravo offered us: immense in this piece, but without unnecessary fanfare, concentrated on the heart of the music that gushed out in torrents with great romanticism. He crowned the recital luxuriously with the third Sonata, in F minor Op. 5, by Johannes Brahms, a monumental work in which the composer shows off the inheritance received from Beethoven, Schumann and Liszt, connecting the latest style of the "deaf" with cyclical compositions by Franck. His way of interpreting with emphasis the main motif of the first movement was impressive, as well as the expressive nocturnal andante, with a special lyrical elevation. He emphasized the novel Scherzo and qualified the march with special taste in the intermezzo, always graduating its even and transparent sound. The final Rondo, so Brahmsian in its tumultuous counterpoint, sometimes solemn, where it clearly separates the voices until it becomes contemplative in a beautiful ascent. In everything we liked the seriousness and dedication of Gómez Bravo, transmitting the impression of an experienced pianist who we see having a great future.
College Music Symposium, Don Bowyer. Sept. 20-2018
Tríos Americanos para clarinet, viola y piano. 2018. Trio Acuarimántima: Javier Asdrúbal Vinasco, clarinet, Braunwin Sheldrick, viola, and Andrés Gómez Bravo, piano. Recorded at StarTrack Studio in Mexico City, October 23-26, 2017. 14 tracks (53:21). www.acuarimantima.com.
Trio Acuarimántima consists of three members of the music faculty at the Universidad EAFIT in Medellin, Columbia. The trio of Javier Asdrúbal Vinasco, clarinet, Braunwin Sheldrick, viola, and Andrés Gómez Bravo, piano, play very well together, with a mature blend that ranges from richly powerful to lightly ethereal – occasionally even harsh and edgy – whatever the music demands. Vinasco received his Doctor of Music degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Sheldrick and Gómez-Bravo received their Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees from the Eastman School of Music.
The four pieces on this recording are all by contemporary composers from the Americas – from Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and an Italian working in Columbia. Collectively, these pieces effectively showcase the expressive talents of this ensemble.
In the delightful and energetic, Trio in Jest, a three-movement work of about 22 minutes, composer Marjan Mozetich borrows and develops material tastefully from Rossini. The first movement is full of expressive, soaring melodies accompanied with rhythmic energy and punctuated by unexpected syncopations. The second movement is more controlled, yet playful throughout. The final movement is fast and frantic, but again delivered with disciplined, expressive playing. The composer writes that a close friend was murdered as he was finishing the piece. Reflecting this tragedy is the “dark and somber” mood for the final minute of the movement, which develops organically, flowing from the earlier playful material to a very satisfying conclusion.
Marcus Alunno’s Janus consists of six short movements designed to give performance options to the musicians. The instructions state that the musicians may perform all six movements in sequence, play the odd-numbered movements as a set followed by the even-numbered movements as a set, or begin with the even-numbered set followed by the odd-numbered one. Beyond this modular set of possible orderings, the musical material exhibits additional aleatoric elements along with extended techniques.
Ofrenda (“ritual offering”) a short single-movement work by Leonardo Coral, was originally written for violin and piano, with this transcription prepared by the composer. Beautiful and haunting, the music is evocative of its title as an offering for the Día de Muertos.
The fourth and final piece in this recording is Cuatro sombras de una palma (“Four shades of a palm tree”) by Carlos Alberto Vázquez, who says that the four movements of this composition are meant as tributes to “four outstanding writers of the great basin of the Caribbean Sea: Derek Walcott (Saint Lucia), Luis Rafael Sánchez (Puerto Rico), Gabriel García Márquez, (Colombia) and Ana Lydia Vega (Puerto Rico).” These movements vary widely in character, technique, and mood, ranging from strong ostinato patterns to ethereal-sounding extended techniques and chromatic passages. The overall narrative structure of the work helps to tie it all into a symbiotic whole.
Throughout this recording, Trio Acuarimántima displays the seasoned musicianship, flawless technique, and the ability to blend that marks the highest caliber chamber ensembles.