Pascua florida, Review Diario de Mallorca

In the first place, we would like to thank the people in charge of this Sacred Music Week for having included this concert; we think it is one of the most interesting concerts we’ve heard so far this season. Any premiere is always a bit mysterious but also has an element of risk: Is it going to be worth it all? Will it live on after this? On this occasion, the answer to those two questions is definitely affirmative. It was worth it and it will continue to form part of our musical heritage in the future.

The evening began with a piece for solo piano, Mentum, commissioned by the Foundation for Iberian Music and directed by the Majorcan Toni Pizà who has done so much to make our music better known in the USA. Here we have a work which at times is rather intimate, sometimes impetuous, but always intelligent, that needs to be heard more than once. Once is not enough to capture all the nuances in this score. Andreu Riera managed to capture the listener’s interest, always expectant when put in a new and unexplored situation. After this we heard the  first performance of Four Poems for Holy Week, on texts by the Majorcan poet Blai Bonet, and written on commission by the Sacred Music Week.

Bali, desperta! Blai desperta!
A les campanes amor
Als campanars d’alegria, aimador!  

Antoni Parera Fons has written a very interesting score here, full of imaginative and inspired melodies, accompanied by the piano, although more than once it seems to cry out for a good orchestration. And, yes, this piece was originally written for voices and piano, although it could just as well have been conceived for voices and orchestra.

Here we have a secular vision of Holy Week, a vision in which the poet and the composer (Bonet and Parera) underscore the seasonal (read: Springtime) aspects of  Eastertide. The open fields, the rituals and customs, the bells ringing, all based on folk traditions: the flowers, the gardens, the sky…combined through words and music, all of them almost but not quite recognizable because of their folk-like roots. So, here we have a beautifully crafted work that, given a little time, will surely become a classic in its field.

Maria del Mar Bonet, the tenor Antoni Aragón, the baritone Toni Marsol, the soprano Maia Planas, the narrator Miquel Mestre and a chamber choir from the Balearic Islands University Choir, under the direction of Joan Company. All of these musicians created just the right atmosphere whenever they sang, including the composer at the piano. The church was full and the audience was so pleased that the musicians had to repeat a part of the score: a cantabile tutti section that could easily have been taken from a typical Majorcan folk tune.