AMN Reviews: Edith Alonso – Rostros en la Multitud (Luscinia)

lus_19Edith Alonso is a Madrid-based pianist and composer and this is her first solo collection, the premier recording of three radiophonic glimpses of faces in the crowd. Her themes reveal an activist artist, and she takes on the big ones – decision-making, human relationships (especially in a time of certain imaginary borders being erased while others are shored up), and the passage of time – with graciousness and conviction.

“La gente que viene” deals with the plight of the immigrant, conveying with a sense of breaking-news urgency pain, confusion, power and powerlessness in an intense three and a half minutes.

“La dernière parti” pokes around in the mind (hearken to whistling, cavernous winds), using a multitude of French (hearken to stereotypical swirling accordion) chess games as a metaphor – for intellectual exercise and for teaching our children well (hearken to the accordion transformed into sharp, broken fragments as synapses fire). The sound of the pieces being poured out onto the board for a fresh game is particularly satisfying.

“Atardecer en un patio” celebrates the corralas of Madrid, public housing with long communal balconies built around an open courtyard that has been a municipal staple for several hundred years. It is by far the longest and by far the most multivocal, and it is here Alonso´s musical interventions are most palpable, from dancing clarinet to electronic wobble and squawk. The sprawling piece symphonizes the vitality of the men, women, kids and livestock that live there, makes conversation, peddler´s calls and good-natured arguments rhythmic. Crowded and crawling with life like an Ettore Scola movie.

Stephen Fruitman