This month sees the latest addition to the Naxos catalogue of music by the Spanish-American composer Leonardo Balada, noted for his stylistic eclecticism and vibrant scores that mix the traditional with the avant-garde, often touching on historical themes and always scoring a direct emotional hit.
The ‘romantic avant-gardism’ of Barcelona-born Leonardo Balada pairs complex techniques with a very direct emotional impact. These characteristics have often been employed in exploring the impact of historical events, none more so than the wars of the 20th century. Symphony No. 6 ‘Symphony of Sorrows’ (Dedicated to the Innocent Victims of the Spanish Civil War) embeds traditional melodic ideas in a coruscating single-movement exploration of the tragedies of war. The Steel Symphony reflects the sonorities—in an abstract, non-programmatic way—of Pittsburgh’s steel foundries, while the Concerto for Three Cellos, inspired by Germany’s recovery after two catastrophic world wars, combines complex techniques in a vivid work of almost surrealistic transformations.
Listen to an extract from Leonardo Balada's Symphony No. 6, “Symphony of Sorrows”
Listen to Rick Phillips' introduction to this new release in his podcast Changing hats.
About the Artists
Born in Barcelona in 1933, Leonardo Balada graduated from the Conservatorio del Liceu of that city and later from The Juilliard School in New York in 1960. He studied composition with Vincent Persichetti and Aaron Copland. Since 1970 he has been teaching at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he is University Professor of Composition. Balada’s large catalogue of works includes chamber and symphonic compositions, cantatas, two chamber operas and four full length ones.
Jesús López Cobos graduated in composition from the Conservatory of Madrid before studying choral and orchestral conducting at the Music Academy of Vienna. A winner at the Besançon and Copenhagen Competitions, he made his début in Prague as an orchestral conductor, and in Venice as an opera conductor. He is currently the Emeritus Director of the Symphony Orchestra of Castilla y León.
Eivind Gullberg Jensen studied conducting with the legendary Jorma Panula in Stockholm, and in Vienna with Leopold Hager. He completed five successful years as Chief Conductor of the NDR Radiophilharmonie in 2014. Equally adept as a concert and opera conductor, Eivind Gullberg Jensen has performed with many leading orchestras and opera houses around Europe.
Hans-Jakob Eschenburg is currently the principal cellist of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. He was a founding member and long-serving cellist (1979-2000) of the Petersen Quartet, touring throughout Europe, North and South America, Australia and the Far East. He is a professor at the Hans Eisler Musikhochschule and is active internationally as a chamber musician and soloist.
Michael Sanderling was appointed principal cellist of the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester in 1987. He has appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout Europe and the United States; his chamber music partners have included Elisabeth Leonskaja, Julia Fischer and Martin Helmchen. In 2010 he launched a successful conducting career and has been Principal Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic since the 2011-2012 season.
Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt was a first prize winner at the German National Music Competition in Bonn, the First International Adam Cello Competition in New Zealand, and the International Music Competitions in Bayreuth and Markneukirchen in Germany. He has performed worldwide with major orchestras, conductors and colleagues and has a number of successful recordings to his credit.
Established in 1992, the Galicia Symphony Orchestra has been in residence at the Coruña Mozart Festival since its foundation in 1998, and was the resident orchestra at the Pesaro Rossini Festival from 2003 to 2005. The orchestra was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Galician Academy of Fine Arts and the Galicia Cultural Prize for Music in 2010.
The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1944, since when it has made numerous recordings and now enjoys an ongoing collaboration with Naxos for which it has recently recorded music by Meyerbeer, Montsalvatge, Massenet and Granados. Touring is an important part of the orchestra's activities, with appearances at some of the world’s major concert halls.
The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra dates back to the early days of music broadcasting in 1923. Since its foundation, important composers such as Sergey Prokofiev, Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky have conducted the orchestra, as well as young promising conductors, including Andris Nelsons, Vasily Petrenko and Alondra de la Parra.
“With every new disc, Leonardo Balada looks more and more like one of our most outstanding composers. Or is it that he looks more and more like one of my favorites? Either way, these Caprichos show that even his “folk” side is well worth hearing.” – MusicWeb International
“Balada's interesting, enjoyable music continues to be a delightful discovery on Naxos. I can heartily recommend earlier issues, which contain concertos for violin, piano, and guitar. This disc is another winner.” – Fanfare