Review of Fantasia Mexicana - Rodolfo Perez
Originally published with Guitar International
By: Brad Conroy
Fantasia Mexicana the latest CD by Guitarist Rodolfo Perez Berrelleza is a historical journey through the music of Mexico and the guitar. Berrelleza is a highly expressive performer, who possesses a warm yet delicate sound, and he perfectly captures the nuances of this music with his technical mastery, and what is no doubt a deep love for the repertoire.
Fantasia Mexicana opens with the ‘Sonata Mexicana’ by Manuel Ponce (1882-1948) which serves as a great starting point for this musical journey. Ponce’s sonata is perhaps the first four movement work for the guitar, and was written for Andres Segovia who championed Ponce’s music throughout his career.
The opening movement ‘Allegro moderato’ is upbeat, rhythmic, and Berrelleza delivers with warmth and precision.
Movement II ‘Andantino affetuso’ has an impressionistic quality very reminiscent of Claude Debussy, and Berrelleza’s delicate touch captures the reflective mood. As the piece develops and modulates, Berrelleza never seems to rush, and he maintains a level of control over what are no doubt some very difficult chromatic and dissonant passages.
Movement III ‘Allegretto in tempo di serenata’ is a standout movement, and Ponce really composed a colorful and special piece here. The melody and the rhythm to this serenade are unforgettable, and Berrelleza really connects with this music on a deep level. His expressive performance of 'Sonata Mexicana' on this CD truly is one of the best recordings of this great work.
The ‘Tres Instances de Extasis’ by Julio Cesar Olivia (b. 1947) is a three movement piece which brings a more modern sound to Fantasia Mexicana. The slight dissonances mingled within arpeggios, and the use of the guitar’s many different timbres creates an evocative soundscape. The harmonies are very colorful within Olivia’s music, and Berrelleza is very deep with his expression, masterfully bringing out the dream like longing of this music.
The ‘Fantasia Sinaloense’ by Jose Angel Ramirez (b.1969) is a piece for guitar and orchestra which was premiered with the Sinaloa Symphony, and written directly for Berrelleza. Within this ten minute work popular melodies from Mexican culture can be heard in the interplay between the soloist and orchestra, and there are moments of reflection, fanfare, delight, and a cadenza of fast scale passages which will surely excite any listener.
Fantasia Mexicana is a very artistic recording by the Culiacan Guitarist Rodolfo Perez Berrelleza. There are familiar works from the Segovia repertoire like the ‘Sonata Mexicana’, and ‘Tres Canciones’ by Manuel Ponce, but also some lesser known but equally incredible repertoire by Julio Cesar Olvia, and Jose Angel Ramirez to name a few. Fantasia Mexicana takes the listener on a musical journey through Mexico, and Rodolfo Perez Berrelleza delivers a great performance with his incredible tone, delicate expression, and a deep love for the repertoire.