Edwin Guevara Gutiérrez’s Ibero-American Landscapes Premiere Concert Review by Carson Woodruff. April 29, 2021.

Spacious but welcoming was the atmosphere of the concert hall. A feeling of something new and innovative was begging to be noticed. Dr. Mugmon gave an insightful introduction to the ensemble’s premiere. One particular characteristic of my viewing experience was the surreal but relieving feeling that this live show produced. Since COVID-19 disrupted the world, with live music shutting down, hearing a live ensemble, even more than that a world premiere was so invigorating. The show, in which safety measures were taken for COVID-19 health, still exerted energy like no other show before it. It was as if a child had just been dismissed from a long day of school. Although I was unable to attend the concert in person, I still watched the livestream and could still feel this explosive release of emotions accumulated from the world during COVID-19.

The audience and listeners witnessed a new story infused with elegant and soothing harmonies topped with a serenade of contrapuntal melodies. The guitars would clash with rhythmic polyphony while the cello and flute dueled with ecstatic and invigorating melody. The premiere of Gutierrez’s new music started with more mellow, less pulsing playing but eventually evolved into a passionate, groovy, and Latin rhythm-inspired section. Ending with a resolute major chord hit, the piece left the audience and viewers of the livestream with a burning desire to hear more. The sonic manipulation of the instruments in this ensemble was very intriguing and creative. At certain points in the piece, for example, the cello would be heard drumming on the wooden material of the instrument, giving a very strong percussive pulse to the music. Additionally, the guitar would produce similar sounds, drumming on the wood body with a thump-like, kick-drum timbre.

Being a member of the audience for Edwin Guevara Gutiérrez’s show allowed for a magical experience. I received so much joy and inspiration as I listened to the music. It was very satisfying and rewarding to see the development starting from the softer, more rubato beginning then finishing the piece with a pulsing rhythmic groove. I would recommend this music to everyone, and especially those who delve into music theory. I would compare Ibero-American Landscapes to the premiere we have studied: Hector Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique as it contains new and revolutionary musical ideas and feels very fresh and surprising. Just Like Symphonie Fantastique, Ibero-American Landscapes exhibits a satisfying rise and climax throughout the piece, sometimes culminating in chaotic, explosive sections. Another detail that I noticed that allows me to draw more similarities to Berlioz work is the use of an apparent idée fixe. Gutiérrez’s work played in this premiere demonstrated a certain melody that is rather syncopated over a repeating minor cadence structure. This melody often starts with the flute and is traded with other instruments such as the cello. This melody line is the idée fixe. It recurs many times throughout the piece, with the first time being near the beginning.

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