Born in Puerto Rico in 1953, Roberto Sierra studied with György Ligeti in Germany. He currently is professor of composition at Cornell University. His music has been played by many of the world’s leading symphony orchestras.

Recorded in 2008 by Albany Records the disc begins with Sierra’s 2002 composition Fandangos. Mainly based on a fandango by Antonio Soler the 11 minute piece is an orchestral tour de force. Written in variation form the piece is reminiscent of Ravel’s Bolero. Not that it sounds like it, but in its duration, brilliant orchestration, and economy of material. Though one can hear suggestions of Ligeti at about the five and a half mark, it’s written in an accessible idiom.

Here are the last couple of minutes of Fandangos. Turn the volume up if you have good speaker attached to your computer. The Sinfonia Da Camera is conducted by Ian Hobson.

The remainder of the disc includes Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s Souvenir de Porto Rico played by Hobson. This is followed Sierra’s Reflections on a Souvenir also played by Hobson. Sierra’s Variations on a Souvenir is played by Hobson with the orchestra conducted with vigor and sharpness  by Eduardo Diazmuñoz. The Variations is a 30 minute work that explores Gottschalk’s music at greater length than the solo piano piece.  Hobson’s playing is brilliant throughout. The original Gottschalk piano solo is interesting and worth several listens.

The recording concludes with Sierra’s Toccata for piano played again by Hobson. Sierra clearly deserves the attention he has garnered in recent years.

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