Driving rhythms, luscious harmonies, shining orchestral colors, syncopals that make your blood pulsate and melodies that seduce and infatuate – on the album “Rock Symphonies,“ you can forget everything that might usually come to mind as a cliché in regards to contemporary orchestral music. Responsible is Portuguese composer and conductor Nuno Côrte-Real. Together with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano, he has rerecorded five of his most important great orchestral works.
Recorded in the Auditorio di Milano, this new production for the label Solo Musica is evidence of the fruitful cooperation between European cultural scenes which are dedicated to the music of the future and the concert audiences of tomorrow with much creative energy. Nuno Côrte-Real’s “Rock Symphonies“ is a true sonorous testament to this effort.
Györgi Ligeti and co. simply needed a little bit of rock’n’roll in order to get some movement going in the ivory tower. That is how one could describe the idea behind the opening piece “Ligeti-Rock.“ But this isn’t just a bland crossover – the repetitive ostinate structures in Nuno Côrte-Real‘s orchestral movements are much too subtle and elegant for that. The “Concerto Vedras“ feels more impressionistic and lyrical, offering an auditory feast full of exotic sensuality. The last movement especially leads the listener into a sparkling pentatonic wonderland. Composed in 2001, this three-movement concert for orchestra is a strong example of Nuno Côrte-Real’s path to aesthetic indepedence, paired with a personal style full of characteristic sound colors, harmonies, and rhythmic twists and turns.
A great openness for all art forms is one of Nuno Côrte-Real‘s trademarks. In this sense, his “Sinfonia Noa Noa“ from 2018 is a hommage to French painter Paul Gauguin, with whom the Portuguese musician shares a distinct musical color perception. Join us on a tour through an imaginary art gallery in the form of five splendid, wide screen, sonic images. Each one of them is directly related to a creation by the French painter.
The piece “Todo o Teatro e un muro branco de Musica“ turns two solo instruments, in this case piano and clarinet, into imaginary theater performers. The interaction between the solo instruments and the dynamic orchestral impulses is clever and lively. As a conclusion, the last piece “Abertura Secondo Novecento“ celebrates artistic freedom beyond any “absolutism of the avantgarde“ one final time.
These five compositions, here performed flawlessy in one recording with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano, show the continuity with which Nuno Côrte-Real continues to follow his vision. This can also be seen in his chosen term of “symphony:“ In its original Greco-Roman meaning, it stands for the harmonious togetherness of all elements – in this case this includes stylistic influences, musical epochs and cultures, and in the end, humans who are motivated by their mission. That’s another way in which this album marks a rejection of all rigid and hierarchical principles in the traditional orchestral apparatus.
Nuno Côrte-Real, born 1971 in Lisboa, is considered one of Portugal’s leading composers and conductors of today. Accordingly, he has won the prize for best classical work by the Portuguese association of authors in both 2018 and 2019 with the song cycle “Now everything changes“ and the opera “Bandit Song,“ respectively.
The Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano was founded in 1993 by Vladimir Delman and immediately became a benchmark for the great symphonic repertoire in Milan and the entire Lombardy region. The orchestra’s venue, the Auditiorium di Milano Fondazione Cariplo, opened in October 1999 with Gustav Mahler’s second symphony, conducted by Riccardo Chailly, and is considered one of the best concert halls in Italy thanks to its aesthetic, technological, and tonal properties.