Victor Carr, Jr.
, January 2001
"Lorenzo Ferrero's La Nueva España ('The New Spain'), a cycle of six symphonic poems depicting Spain's conquest of Mexico in 1521 and the subsequent destruction of the Aztec civilization (including the slaughter of 20,000 people), was composed between 1991 and 1999. Not really a '21st Century Classic', it's still a decidedly 20th century work--an 'anti-Ma Vlast' that turns Smetana's heroic concept on its head. Musically, the work owes much to the cinematic style that informs a good bit of today's concert music: it tells its tragic tale in the suggestively visual and dramatic manner of film scores.
"Ferrero makes less use of ethnic sounds than you might expect; although the first poem, Presagios, opens with some Latin percussion, for the most part the musical language could be best characterized as 'neo-romantic'. The composer occasionally employs minimalist techniques, as in the third poem, La Ruta de Cortes, which is a sort of passacaglia that starts out sounding like Phillip Glass but ends up more like Mussorgsky. Ferrero's music is at times serene, at others fierce, but it always manages to captivate by its clean-lined beauty. Thus, La Nueva Espana won't impress the Sessions/Babbit/Carter crowd, but most everyone else will find himself intrigued, stimulated, and satisfied. Takuo Yuasa has his finger right on the pulse of this music, and he leads the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in a powerful performance, well captured by the Naxos engineers. At this price (and for more than 71 minutes of music), what better way to try something new?"