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Emilio Solla, Antonio Lizana: El Siempre Mar



Emilio Solla, Antonio Lizana - Photo by Natalia Chilo
Emilio Solla, Antonio Lizana - Photo by Natalia Chilo

The sea makes its appearance as a metaphor once again in another album by the itinerant pianist and composer Emilio Solla, this time in a more preternatural way than ever. Mr Solla comes out to play as he has never done so on El Siempre Mar seemingly because he allows the two worlds he travels between – the Andalusian one and the Argentinean one – to collide as if under the nuclear corona of the sun… and the ubiquitous sea, which as Jorge Luis Borges says put an indelible stamp on the eras that connect us.

This proverbial collision is made so much more poignant by the high and lonesome countertenor of Antonio Lizana, an evocative flamenco vocalist in the purest sense of that idiom – which is to say just as Federico García-Lorca would have the duende of flamenco have us; that is, a stranglehold on our hearts, a “mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained… the spirit of the earth, ‘the same duende’ that scorched Nietzche’s heart.”

Emilio Solla & Antonio Lizana: El Siempre Mar
Emilio Solla & Antonio Lizana: El Siempre Mar

The ear is immediately struck by this from the first notes of the percussive piano with which Mr Solla introduces the pulsating rhythms of El arriero. This is immediately followed by the flames of incandescent, caterwauling vocals from Mr Lizana. Together the two musicians beautifully set up the themes and content for the narratives that follow. Those remarkable miniature action-noises that follow, captured by the recording engineers, Chris Benham and Diko Shoturma. Strings recorded by Pablo López-Ruiz and Roxana Amed vocals by Carlos Álvarez. As delightful as these songs are to listen to, they are evidently joyous to play too – performances notable for their buoyancy and vivacity.

Artistic emotions and experiences – that is one’s place in the continuum of music – are as difficult to both establish and express as the agelessly itinerant human diaspora. But erudite musicians such as Mr Solla, Mr Lizana [as vocalist and saxophonist], together with contrabassist Jorge Roeder, drummer Ferenc Nemeth, the inimitable Roxana Amed and, of course the wonderful musicians who comprise the String Quartet extol with the virtuosic wonders of their respective instruments. The strings offer elegant support to Mr Solla’s left hand lines and Mr Lizana’s vocals and saxophone breaks on the lament of Zamba para no morir and the narrative on Lejos de casa [the latter also featuring a wondrous vocal duet between Mr Lizana and Miss Amed].

As always with Mr Solla’s music – whether it is broadcast by large and small ensembles [such as is the case on this recording] – only connoisseurs will derive untold ecstasy and satisfaction from this music – yet [performed] so that even the non-connoisseur will also be pleased as the music’s mysteries are revealed. It’s indeed a fair bet that the dazzling performances by Mr Solla, Mr Lizana and the rest of the cast will meet with the same unanimous approval. And this is where the ingenuity of these imaginatively scored arrangements come into play. Whether [scored] for just piano, voice, saxophone, contrabass and percussion, or scoring the continuo lines for a wide-ranging [especially in Zamba para no morir] string quartet, the evocative melodic, harmonic and [especially] rhythmic effect is unforgettable.

This welcome variety increases the almost kaleidoscopic shifting of artistic focus [thematic and executional] for these works are short, each composer’s real gifts lie in writing catchy tunes, the adroit manipulation of short motifs and attractive quasi-fugato of which come brilliantly into focus by sublimely adaptive and interpretive skills on the part of the performers. In sum, each musician has responded with carefully thought-out phrasing, a well-balanced control of ensemble and a sensitive feel for style; the result, recorded in two different locations to good acoustic effect, makes for supremely attractive listening.

Deo gratis…

YouTube Playlist – Emilio Solla, Antonio Lizana: El Siempre Mar

Music – 1: El arriero; 2: Zamba para no morir; 3: Vidalita – Buenos Aires blues; 4: Luna tucumana; 5: Siempre se Vuelve a Buenos Aires; 6: Lejos de casa; 7: La Piedra; 8: Silencio de cristal; 9: Hurry; 10: Una realidad diferente; 11: El otro mar.

Musicians – Emilio Solla: piano; Antonio Lizana: vocals and saxophones; Jorge Roeder: contrabass; Ferenc Nemeth: drums; Roxana Amed: vocals [6]; String Quartet – Javier Weintraub: violin I [2, 6]; Cecilia García: violin II [2, 6]; Javier Portero: viola I [2, 6]; Patricio Villarejo: cello [2, 6].

Released – 2023
Label – Tiger Turn
Runtime – 57:42

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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