About this Recording
8.573505 - SORO, E.: Sinfonía romántica / Danza fantástica / 3 Aires chilenos / Andante appassionato (Chile Symphony, Domínguez)
English  Spanish 

Enrique Soro (1884–1954)
Orchestral Works


Enrique Soro Barriga was born in Concepción, Chile, on 15th July 1884. His Italian-born father Giuseppe, who had settled in Concepción in 1870, was a musician, composer and piano/singing teacher. His mother Pilar ran a school and taught French. The family home hosted many a musical and literary gathering, inspiring a love of music in the Soro Barriga children.

Initially taught by his father, Soro made rapid progress in his musical education. Giuseppe’s death led Pilar to apply to the Chilean government for a grant enabling Enrique to study in Europe. He set sail in 1898, originally with a view to studying at the Paris Conservatoire; he soon changed his mind, however, and was admitted instead to the Milan Conservatory, where his father had been a student forty years earlier.

In 1904 Soro graduated in composition, and was awarded a prize as the best student in his year. Towards the end of that year, he travelled to Paris to showcase some of his works, the eminent Quatuor Geloso performing his String Quartet in A at the Salle Pleyel. In 1905, when he was still only 21, he returned to Chile to add his contribution to the nascent classical music scene. By then he already had more than 70 compositions to his name, many of them for solo piano, others for voice and piano, and five major works: Melodia for string quintet (1902), Suite per piccola orchestra (1902), String Quartet in A (1903), Sonata in D minor for violin and piano (1903) and the Variaciones sinfónicas (1904).

He immediately embarked upon a busy career in music, combining composition, conducting and teaching; he was also put in charge of state school music education and, between 1919 and 1927, was director of the National Conservatory. In 1916 he travelled to Washington, and while in the US established an important relationship with the leading New York-based publisher G. Schirmer. Thereafter his music began to be published and performed around the world.

Shortly after composing his Suite en estilo antiguo (1943), which proved to be his final orchestral work, Soro suffered the tragedy of his wife’s premature death in 1944. Four years later he was awarded the Chilean National Arts Prize, but remained grief-stricken, and his final compositions are all tinged with an elegiac melancholy. Enrique Soro died suddenly on the evening of 3rd December 1954.

Roberto Doniez Soro
Enrique Soro Archive

The origins of the Danza fantástica lie in the third movement of Soro’s Suite for Strings (1905), which he then orchestrated in a brilliant and definitive manner. The power of this piece, structured in two contrasting sections, makes it an ideal concert opener. The first section is intense and stormy, with a distinctive pulsating interval of a fifth in the strings and winds, intensified by the kettle drum, which gives it a Bartók- or Stravinsky-like primitivism. The more lyrical second section allows Soro’s characteristic gift for melody space to soar. After a recapitulation of the first section, the work returns to the material of the second, this time giving it a majestic full-orchestral treatment.

The Tres aires chilenos (1942) occupy a unique place in Soro’s catalogue. This is one of the few scores in which he drew inspiration from Chilean folk music, specifically the tonada of central Chile. Its date reveals that late on in his career Soro was interested in expanding his idiom to embrace a kind of nationalism. The work was written in the city of Puerto Montt and first performed in 1942 by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile conducted by the composer. All three movements are modelled on the structures, harmonies and rhythms of the tonada, to the point of appearing to be orchestrations of folk tunes, but in fact the thematic material is all original. With this work, Soro created one of the most universal orchestral works combining Chilean vernacular music with the European classical tradition.

The subtle and attractive Andante appassionato (1902) came to Soro in a dream while he was a young man studying in Europe. He later wrote: “I was in Milan, staying with friends while on holiday. This was during my youth, a time of hope and love. One night I dreamt of a certain person I had met there, and in my dream I wrote a piece inspired by love. I woke up. It was three in the morning. I immediately began noting down the music. My host, alarmed by hearing me up and about, came to ask if I was unwell. The next day I sat at the piano and arranged the work. That’s how the Andante appassionato was born.” Soro went on to adapt the original piano piece for various different instruments and ensembles, including string quartet, cello, organ, and the orchestral version recorded here.

In 1922 Soro returned to Europe for a series of concerts—a trip that saw one of the greatest landmarks in his career when, in the December of that year, he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in a concert of his own works. One of the pieces on the programme was his Sinfonía romántica, composed a year earlier and dedicated to Adriana Cardemil, whom he had married nine days after the symphony’s premiere at the Teatro Municipal in Santiago. That first performance on 6th May 1921 had historic significance, because the work was the first symphony composed in Chile and remains the most important example of the genre ever written by a Chilean composer.

As listeners will hear, the Sinfonía romántica is the equal of any symphony produced in Europe at the same time, and in the period immediately before this. The composer’s acute sense of form is evident, as is his capacity to absorb the conventions of the kind of orchestral development typical of such masters as Tchaikovsky or Dvořák. The unrestrained and almost pastoral first movement underlines Soro’s gift for both melody and orchestration. Solos for oboe and flute form the heart of the moving Adagio, in which the string section also gets its chance to shine. The Scherzo has the character of a dance, its trio providing a marked contrast by beginning with a calm passage which then gains in intensity before returning to the opening dance. The finale has a triumphant air, as if the jubilation of the rest of the work were multiplied here, justifying the symphony’s “Romantic” appellation.

Álvaro Gallegos

English translation by Susannah Howe

The producer wishes to thank Roberto Doniez Soro, the composer’s grandson and executor of Soro’s estate, for his support and input on this project.

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