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ELENA CASANOVA MUSIC

RECORDANDO

Remembering the Maestros of Cuban Classical

Ignacio Cervantes, Ernesto Lecuona, Manuel Saumell, René Touzet

ELENA CASANOVA, piano

Debut Solo Recording

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Elena Casanova – Recordando – Recordando al Maestro

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Elena Casanova – Recordando

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 21 – No Hables Mas

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 20 – En Tres por Cuatro

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 19 – Danza Lucumi

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 18 – La Comparsa

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 17 – Andalucia

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 16 – Malaguena

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 14 – Tu Sonrisa

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 14 – Tu Sonrisa

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 13 – El Panuelo de Pepa

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 12 – Los Ojos de Pepa

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 11 – Ilusiones Perdidas

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 10 – Los Tres Golpes

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 09 – Picotasos

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 08 – Cervantina

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 07 – Siempre en Clave

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 06 – Dancita no. 3

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 05 – Dancita no. 2

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 04 – Dancita no. 1

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 03 – Recordando al Maestro

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 02 – La Trece

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ELENA CASANOVA – Recordando – 01 – Zapateo Cubano

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Elena Casanova – Recordando – Recordando al Maestro

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REVIEWS

All Music Guide

Recordando is the maiden voyage on disc of Cuban pianist Elena Casanova, presented courtesy of MSR Classics. It’s a swell disc, fabulously well recorded and beautifully played. The names of Cervantes, Saumell, and Lecuona certainly will not be new to listeners already in the know about Cuban piano music, but that of René Touzet may come as a surprise, as he is better known as a commercial bandleader of mambos and other Latin dance music. Yet, like Agustín Lara, Lecuona, and for that matter Scott Joplin, the piano versions of Touzet’s popularly intended numbers play like classical piano music, with a sense of flexibility that breathes. Yet Touzet’s music does not sound compromised in being shorn of its Latin dance beat, in the manner that, say, a Cole Porter song loses some of its integrity when sung by an operatic soprano.

Casanova plays all 21 of these short pieces with great care and respect, and employs a singing line that subtly pulls the dance rhythm along with it. Any listeners who already enjoy Nohema Fernandez or Thomas Tirino’s work in this vein will also like Recordando. Naturally, the approach to Cuban piano music isn’t exactly an over-recorded commodity in the domestic U.S. market, so the more the merrier. You’ll have to look hard for this one though – with its Havana street scene with a big yellow Chevy on the front, Recordando doesn’t look like a classical music album. – Uncle Dave Lewis, All Music Guide

 

Fanfare

“This is a short and sweet CD!… For lovers of Ernesto Lecuona’s piano music…this release is an opportunity to sample the work of two of Lecuona’s predecessors and one of his contemporaries… [Touzet] is cheerfully compelling…[Casanova] plays throughout with style, sensitivity and obvious enjoyment…A CD of interest and quality…”. Fanfare, July/August 2007

Audiophile Audition

“Ms. Casanova has a passion for the music of her native country, and it shows in her playing. Before listening to this recording, I did not know the music of these composers; but I now share this performer’s interest and will consciously look for more examples of their music… Her joyful playing gives me a renewed sense of wonder about the unique sound of an acoustical instrument that is sometimes viewed as just an ancestor to the synthesizer… Listening to this recording made me happy from the first note to the last. The music is rhythmic, joyful, exuberant, and beautiful. The playing is fluid and exciting. The sound quality is very clear, immediate and full without being too much for the ears. This recording sounds wonderful whether played on a good sound system, through my computer speakers, or on my iPod. Audiophiles may regard my last statement as sacrilege; but for me, the test of a well-engineered recording is whether the sound holds up under many different conditions and acoustical limitations. Most of all, this music (and the artistry with which it was played by Ms. Casanova) made me want to smile, to dance, to help celebrate the rich heritage of the four Cuban composers whose music was showcased here.” Audiophile Audition, October 2006.

Patric Standford

Music in Cuba has a long history. Sacred music was composed for and performed in Santiago Cathedral in the mid 16th century, but it was not until the late 18th century that Cuba’s first major composer, Esteban Salas, achieved fame through his considerable volume of church music. Others followed, and with the establishment of first the Academy of Music in Havana in 1814, and later the Santa Cecilia Academy, the classical and early romantic styles were cultivated, and composers began their fusion of Cuban folk songs and dance rhythms with classical forms.

Among the earliest major Cuban composers was Saumell, born in 1817, and the first to cultivate a nationalist voice in music. This recording features four of his piano pieces.

The most important composer of the next generation was Ignacio Cervantes (1847-1905), a concert pianist, pupil of Gottschalk, and best known for the sets of Danzas cubanas he published between 1876-95, of which Los Tres Golpes must be typical.

Ernesto Lecuona died in 1963 with a great reputation as a composer of musicals, film music and a large collection of songs and piano pieces that became the voice of Latin America generally and Cuba in particular. His Suite Espagnole became very popular, from which Malagueña particularly and the extrovert Danzas Cubanas Suite, two movements of which complete Casanova’s recital.

The most recent composer of the four in this recital is Rene Touzét who died in 2003 at the age of 87. His popular songs and dances have been performed everywhere, and though the style is little different from that of Saumell a century earlier, there is an exquisite warmth in pieces like that which appropriately gives its title to the CD, Recordando.

This CD represents a certain stylistic genre of Cuban music, and it has a fine advocate through the spirited playing of Elena Casanova, born in Havana and educated at the Conservatoire there until she moved with her family to California where she graduated at University of Redlands. Perhaps her undoubted technical command might serve the promotion of a wider range of Cuban composers, for with figures like José Ardévol, Harold Gramatges, Aurelio de la Vega and Tania León among others, names for many of us who don’t yet know the music, there is more to Cuba’s composer than just the dance rhythms. The recording is rather dry and the slim insert, beyond supplying a brief note on each composer, is not very informative, and has nothing on the pianist. But it is an attractive introduction to one significant aspect of Cuban music. -Copyright 13 November 2006 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK