Miguel del Águila: Piano Quintets

Artista (s) principales

Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Sally Pinkas

Compositor (es)

Miguel del Águila


Clásica Contmeporánea, Música latinoamericana, música de cámara

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This new CD features three wonderful piano quintets by Uruguayan-born American composer Miguel del Águila, superbly performed by Sally Pinkas at the piano and the celebrated Cuarteto Latinoamericano.

Del Águila’s piano quintets are masterful works that blend elements of classical tradition with Latin American and contemporary influences. His music evokes a wide range of emotions, from passion and melancholy to joy and vitality, creating a captivating sonic journey.

«Concierto en Tango» skillfully translates the seductive rhythms and nostalgic melodies that characterize this genre, it is an arrangement by the composer himself of a work of the same name, originally written for cello solo and orchestra in 2014. About the piece the composer himself writes: “While most people associate Tango with the 1920’s Valentino films or the Tango Nuevo of Piazzola, to many of us who grew up in Montevideo or Buenos Aires in the 50’s and 60’s, Tango has a very different connotation. It is associated with childhood memories of happy and prosperous times and with happy family gatherings where we as children often just enjoyed watching everyone dance. In that context, Tango carries a special nostalgia from that time and place in a society that no longer exists. Those were the times before the economic collapse of the 70’s and the horrors of the military dictatorships that followed. The imagery of these events is portrayed within the music of Concierto en Tango. “Rather than limiting myself to this style, I also included idioms from earlier Tango styles, including the 19th century Spanish Tango-Habanera, the Brazilian Tango/Maxixe, and the early Milongas of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in which the African influence was still evident in its syncopations and fast beat. However, Concierto en Tango has a rhythmic complexity beyond any of these dances, and it represents my abstraction of those rhythms as they fuse with my own personal style”.

Boliviano. Written in 2008, it was commissioned by Cuarteto Latinoamericano to be premiered with guitarist Manuel Barrueco. The three movements are highly descriptive. As their titles suggest, there is a protagonist and a physical space: The Bolivian “altiplano”. 

As I was writing this music I could see and relate closely to this specific person wondering in the desolated landscape of Bolivia’s highlands. In the music, this protagonist’s voice becomes that of the guitar.

I. Alegre

This first movement serves as a short introduction to the work. The mood is bright and cheerful. It’s the beginning of a new day and a new journey.

II. Returning Home Under the Rain

(Regresando a casa bajo la lluvia)

The Traveler is on his long journey home. He is tired and lonely as he walks under freezing rain. 

III. Lost My Way in Darkness

(Me perdí en la oscuridad)

Now, the entire ensemble becomes the travelers’ own intimate feelings, his own voice (still mainly played by the guitar). The sky becomes dark and he loses his way. 

VI. And the Sun Came Out – (Y el sol salió)

Finally the clouds dissipate and the sun comes out brighter than ever. He can now see home in the distance. The music/journey is filled with optimism and excitement as he is back home where he is anxiously expected.

The musical language in this work uses elements from Andean folklore and the string instruments are often imitating some traditional instruments Latin American instruments like Quenas, Charangos, Bombos and other percussion instruments. The writing for the strings and guitar often calls for unusual techniques and can be demanding and virtuosic at times.

Tamboreño (Like Drums) for string quartet and piano – World Premiere Recording Commissioned by the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College for Cuarteto Latinoamericano and pianist Sally Pinkas. The eight-minute-long work for string quartet and piano is the composer’s Op. 125, written in 2020. Del Águila writes: “The title, a made-up word related to Tambor, Spanish for drum, illustrates the highly rhythmical nature of this piece which conveys a group of drummers first warming up and then improvising together on different Latin inspired rhythms. The piece contains no improvised sections; its goal is to give the impression of a spontaneous jam session among friends which slowly turns into music. As the work progresses the music becomes more intense and dramatic, and the finale triggers a joyous, upbeat ending where music and musicians seem stuck in their own frenzy”.

This CD is a wonderful showcase of Miguel del Águila’s talent and creativity, as well as the interpretive skill of Sally Pinkas and the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. It is a musical journey that will captivate classical music enthusiasts and those seeking to explore exciting new fusions of styles.