The following is a review of David Garner's Viñetas Flamencas, which premiered at Old First Concerts, Friday, June 7, 2002.
All You Could Hope For
San Francisco Classical Voice
Tuesday, June 11, 2002
"Good concerts can introduce worthy new music, resurrect neglected repertoire, or simply bring special vitality to the familiar. Citywinds' concert on Friday evening in San Francisco was good by all of those measures. No wonder I left Old First Church afterward feeling like I'd been to one of the best concerts of the season.
The most substantial premiere on the program was a new song cycle by David Garner, Vinetas Flamencas. Tenor Mark Hernandez sang the six poems by Federico Garcia Lorca, accompanied by the full Citywinds wind quintet and pianist Mack McCray. The new work stretches about a half hour in length, but the varied character of the songs, each a portrait of a flamenco musician, makes the time flow easily. Garner's settings exploit the rich sonority of the quintet but perhaps underutilize the piano. Each song is a well-defined intimate character study in the spirit of the poems themselves. The music projects the swagger of "Silverio Franconetti," the subversiveness of "Conjuro," and the solemnn, bitter anguish of "Juan Breva.
Garner told the audience that he evoked the Spain of several eras, including the Renaissance (most obviously in the song, "Lamentation of Death") as well as the early modern era of Garcia Lorca (including echoes of Manuel De Falla in "Flamenco Cabaret"). In general the music is Romantic in feel, despite this range. It is tonal yet not obvious or trite, even if the flamenco influence is excusably literal at times. The composer makes beautiful use of the wind instruments and Hernandez was a clear and convincing soloist..."