Juan María Solare‘s new album is called ‘Colores de un otoño incipiente’ (translating to ‘Colours of an incipient Autumn’). A first question arises: “But Juan, it is not autumn now!” Yes, it is also autumn – but in the Southern Hemisphere, where the pianist was born.

When played in its intended order, the titles of the individual tracks can be read as verses of a poem in Spanish. A poem that alludes to aging (find it below).

Musically, this cycle of seven pieces abounds in harmony of chords by fourths (the so called Quartal harmony) in a minimalist neoclassical aesthetic. The way of working texturally with the piano highlights the pedal, the resonances – that third dimension of sound. This work represents a point of contact between the sober expressivity of Alban Berg and the experimentalism of John Cage.

These seven “somewhat abstract” pieces were composed at the end of 2019, in several cases with the pianist’s new-born daughter in his arms, trying to put her to sleep (and hoping that she stays asleep). This explains the cautious nature of the music and its prudent dynamics that never even reach a mezzoforte.

The album is being released (on Spotify, Apple Music and all other streaming platforms including Instagram or TikTok) on 22 April 2022, coinciding with what would be the pianist’s father’s 103rd birthday.

The album was recorded on a Steinway grand piano at the Musikschule Bremen (Germany), with two Neumann KM-184 microphones. Recording and mastering technician: Alexander Derben.

For the artwork, the photographer and visual storyteller Leon Drago, from London, has kindly authorised the use of his photograph ‘Pathway, The Garden House and Pergola, Hampstead Heath extension, London‘. In fact, the pianist confessed that the title of the album came about as a result of finding this photograph.

The recording of Colores de un otoño incipiente (with the composer on piano) can be found here, released through the label Janus Music & Sound.

Pianist Juan María Solare. Foto: WFB / Jonas Ginter

About some of the single tracks:

  • The title track ‘Inocencia’, (Innocence), presents a single sonority throughout; a constant and stable harmonic field (d minor). Find a video of this piece:
  • The title “Apergaminada por las largas vigilias” is taken from a poem by Chilean poet Pedro Lastra.
  • Y dejó un hueco de luz en esta nada” comes from a micropoem attributed to Alejandro Güerri, written in memory of Javier Adúriz. This seventh piece, transparent and delicate, pictures a being definitively transformed into light.
  • In “Frugal ante la desmesura“, the idea of desmesura (excess) arises from the prologue by Javier Adúriz to his book “Solos de conciencia” (1985): “Faced with the excess of death, consciousness perceives the weakness of its willful affirmation, the one for which it feels itself unique and safe from all decrepitude.” Adúriz (a former literature teacher of the pianist at the Escuela Argentina Modelo in Buenos Aires) was one of the fundamental figures in his artistic training.
  • Se resignó a lo inconcluso” (“He resigned himself to the unfinished [things]”): in the face of death, everything will remain unfinished. The most reasonable option is to accept this defeat. Certainly, some things can be finished, but there will always be more that remains incomplete.

We mentioned that the single tracks can be read as the lines of a poem. Here is the poem and a possible translation equivalent in English:

Colores de un otoño incipiente
 Declina el día.
 Cobriza de hojarasca, la tierra aguarda.
 Apergaminada por las largas vigilias.
 Frugal ante la desmesura,
 Se resignó a lo inconcluso
 Y dejó un hueco de luz en esta nada. 
Colors of an incipient autumn
 The day declines.
 Coppery with old leaves, the earth awaits.
 Parched by the long vigils.
 Frugal in the face of excess,
 He resigned himself to the unfinished
 And he left a hole of light in this nothingness.