On first thought, one might be hard-pressed to find a common ground between Algerian raï music and Latin jazz. But for the pianist Maurice el Medioni, an Algerian-born Jew who left his home for France decades ago as an exile, and the Cuban-born, New York-based percussionist Roberto Rodriguez, the link connecting North Africa and Cuba is a direct one – by way of Spanish Andalusia. World music fusion exercises are more common all the time, and cultural distinctions often become so blurred that the sources are obscured rather than accented.
Sounds Of Space, the title of Cuban pianist and composer Alfredo Rodriguez’ debut recording, evokes images of science fiction. In truth, it’s about a far more personal adventure. “It’s about the space that surrounds us,” he explains. “In this record I wanted to introduce myself: here are the people, the places and the sounds that have surrounded me, and made me who I am.” A key player in Rodriguez’ extraordinary story is producer Quincy Jones, who co-produced Sounds Of Space with Rodriguez.
Mayr had established himself as a highly successful composer by the beginning of the 19th century. Medea in Corinto is one of his best-known operas, based on a libretto by Felice Romani. For decades after its 1813 première at the San Carlo Theatre in Naples, it provided one of the speciality roles for Isabella Colbran and Giuditta Pasta. In this recording, Italian conductor Fabio Luisi gives an intense reading of Mayr’s music and masterfully underlines its deep psychological dimensions, enhancing the drama that unfolds on stage. Luisi, a Grammy Award-winning artist, is also principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and general music director of the Zurich Opera. Michael Spyres and Enea Scala, take the important roles of Jason and Aegeus. The role of Medea is entrusted to the Spanish soprano Davinia Rodriguez, who effortlessly delivers Act I’s demanding cavatina with obbligato violin, usually omitted in most productions.