On October 15 at 5PM in the Salón del Consejo Universitario in the principal building of the University of Guanajuato, pianist Ana Cervantes will perform a program titled Exposición/ReExposición (in English, Exposition/Recapitulation): a kind of retrospective consisting of pieces she’s interpreted over the course of her 15 years studying, working and living in Mexico. This program is a Recapitulation –necessarily brief— of some of the music which she has commissioned or premiered, including music of Georgina Derbez, Gabriela Ortiz, Jack Fortner, Alex Shapiro, Mario Lavista, Stephen McNeff, and Tomás Marco, among others. My contribution to the program will be a solo piano work entitled Murmuring in Comala, originally commissioned by Ana as part of a multi-composer project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Pedro Paramo, an important proto-magical-realist novel by Mexican author Juan Rulfo. She premiered at the 34th Festival Internacional Cervantino in October 2006 and subsequestly recorded the work on compact disc.
Rulfo’s striking sonic palette (groaning wheels, rattling windows, falling rain and murmuring ghosts), echoes the complex narrative unfolding, where we rarely know whose voice we are hearing initially. Just as sounds imply someone making them, we recognize the voices peripherally, like registering a ghost image. We discover whose voice it was rather than whose voice it is. We must resist the temptation to steamroll through these difficult passages because these veiled voices are so crucial to our understanding. Equally striking is the novel’s non-linear conception of time. It flowers slowly in multiple directions. This is a lovely analog to music, which is surprisingly multidirectional: we listen ahead and backward simultaneously, constantly reinterpreting each new musical gesture by placing it in its previous context and anticipating its direction.