Author Topic: Alberto Williams (1862-1952), a forgotten Argentine symphonist  (Read 3598 times)

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Alberto Williams (1862-1952), a forgotten Argentine symphonist
« on: November 01, 2013, 08:43:58 AM »
A couple years ago I chanced upon this Arte Nova CD of two orchestral works by the previously-unknown-to-me Argentine composer Alberto Williams:

I was thoroughly impressed! Williams' music blends late-romantic European influences, impressionism, and rhythms and melodies influenced by Argentinian folk music. The Seventh Symphony (1937), subtitled Eterno Reposo, is an exciting work full of unexpected mood swings. I was reminded of composers as diverse as Foulds, Villa-Lobos, Bax, and Scriabin in this work. The Poema del Igazu (1943) is a more straightforward and traditional (but no less impressive) work. It is a beautiful, captivating suite/symphonic poem in the spirit of Wagner, Smetana (The Moldau), and Debussy. The performances and sound are excellent and so is the price! Here's a review of the disc by the ever-dependable and enthusiastic Rob Barnett:

Intrigued, I researched Williams and discovered that he composed the fateful number of nine symphonies, among other works! I then rushed out to pick up the other available recordings of his music:




The two discs of piano music are pleasant, melodic listening, consisting of mainly miniatures. Volume 1 contains a most impressive work, though, the half-hour long Primera Sonata Argentina, which occupies the bold, colorful world of the Seventh Symphony. The Chandos collection features only one work by Williams, the Primera obertura de concierto (First Concert Overture), which an early work influenced by European models, but still highly enjoyable. A major find on that disc is the Trez Danzas by Colombian composer Guillermo Uribe-Holguin (1880-1971), who, I discovered, was an enormously prolific composer which 13 symphonies, among much else, to his credit! Back to Williams, the Three Argentinian Suites for string orchestra (featured on the last pictured disc) are wonderful folksy/romantic works.

His Symphonies 1 and 2 (which don't exist in commercial recordings) were recently uploaded to YouTube (I haven't heard them yet). Symphony no. 7, the Poema del Igazu, and some piano works (including the sonata) can be found there also.

I would definitely love to see a record label embark on a series of Williams' orchestral music. But the question is: Whom? There is, sadly, no record label dedicated to recording Latin American music. But CPO is always a safe bet, I suppose. After all, they recorded the Villa-Lobos symphonies!

This thread will probably be a prime candidate for the Zero Response Award ( 8)), but I'm sure Jeffrey, at least, will take some interest or have something to add :)
« Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 08:53:31 AM by kyjo »


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Re: Alberto Williams (1862-1952), a forgotten Argentine symphonist
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2013, 08:50:11 AM »
Here's a list (by no means complete) of Williams' compositions I compiled over at the Art-Music Forum:

Orchestral Compositions:

1889: Concert Overture no. 1, op. 15: 10 minutes (Chandos CD)
1890: "Miniaturas" ("Thumbnails"), first suite, op. 30
         "Miniaturas", second suite, op. 31
         "The Abandoned Ranch" for orchestra, op. 32: 5 minutes (piano version on Oehms and Albany CDs)
1892: Concert Overture no. 2, op. 18
1907: Symphony no. 1 in B minor, op. 44
1910: Symphony no. 2 in C minor, "The Witch of the Mountains", op. 55
         Centennial March for orchestra, op. 56
1911: Symphony no. 3 in F major, "The Sacred Forest", op. 58
1913: "Poem for the Campaniles" for orchestra, op. 60
1921: Five Argentine Dances for orchestra, op. 63
1923: Argentine Suite no. 1 for string orchestra
         Argentine Suite no. 2 for string orchestra
         Argentine Suite no. 3 for string orchestra (D'note and Radio Clasica CDs)*
1933: "Poem for the Southern Seas" for orchestra, op. 88
1935: Symphony no. 4 in E-flat major "Eli ataja-caminos", op. 98
1936: Symphony no. 5 in E-flat major "The Doll's Heart", op. 100
1937: Symphony no. 6 in B major, "The Death of a Comet", op. 102
         Symphony no. 7 in D major, "Eterno Reposo" ("Eternal Rest"), op. 103: 38 minutes (Arte Nova CD)
1938: Symphony no. 8 in F minor, "The Sphinx", op. 104
         "Las milongas de la orquesta" for orchestra, op. 107
1939: Symphony no. 9 in B-flat major "Los batracios" ("The Batrachians"), op. 108 (also known as "La Humoristica")
1943: "Poem del Igazu" ("Poem of the Igazu Falls") for orchestra, op. 115: 34 minutes (Arte Nova CD)
1944: "The Air in the Pampas", two suites for orchestra, op. 117
(date?): "Bartolome Mitre March" for orchestra
Also, he apparently composed at least one piano concerto, the first (or only) of which was composed by 1889.

Chamber Compositions:

1905: Violin Sonata no. 1
1906: Violin Sonata no. 2
         Cello Sonata
1907: Violin Sonata no. 3

Solo Piano Compositions:

1884: Mazurka no. 1, op. 3: 2 minutes (Marco Polo CD)
(date?): Cancion de Nino, op. 13, no. 1 (Albany CD)
1890: Waltz Air no. 2, op. 16: 6 minutes (Marco Polo CD)
         Poetic Pieces, op. 17: 13 minutes (Marco Polo CD)
         Mazurka no. 2, op. 20: 3 minutes (Marco Polo CD)
1891: Mazurka no. 3, op. 28: 6 minutes (Marco Polo CD)
1893: Hueyas, op. 33: 8 minutes (Marco Polo/Naxos CD)
1906: Berceuses, op. 47: 12 minutes (Marco Polo/Naxos CD)
1912: Poem of the Bells, op. 60: 18 minutes (Marco Polo CD)
1913: 20 Milongas, op. 64 (11-20: 26 minutes) (11-20 on a Marco Polo/Naxos CD)
1917: Sonata Argentina no. 1, op. 74: 31 minutes (Marco Polo/Naxos CD)
1920: Poem of the Ravine, op. 79: 8 minutes (Marco Polo CD)
         Poem of the Valley, op. 80: 13 minutes (Marco Polo CD)
1939: Waltz Air no. 13, op. 109: 4 minutes (Marco Polo CD)
1946: Waltz Air no. 25, op. 127: 3 minutes (Marco Polo CD)

Vocal Compositions:

(date?): Milonga calabacera for bass-baritone, mezzo-soprano, and piano: 2 minutes (Harmonia Mundi CD)


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Re: Alberto Williams (1862-1952), a forgotten Argentine symphonist
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2013, 09:03:24 AM »
YouTube links:

Symphony no. 1 in B minor:
Symphony no. 2 in C minor The Witch of the Mountains:
Symphony no. 7 in D major Eterno Reposo:


Poema del Igazu:


Primera Sonata Argentina:


Primera Obertura de Concierto:

Anything to help Williams' cause ;D :)