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Carlos Surinach's "Paeans and Dances of Heathen Iberia"

Carlos Surinach's Paeans and Dances of Heathen Iberia, featured on our December concerts, is one of the hidden gems of the wind repertoire. The piece was commissioned by Robert Boudreau and the American Wind Symphony, a wind ensemble that is notably missing saxophones and euphoniums. For many conductors, this instrumentation is ideal, thus making the American Wind Symphony Orchestra commissions of even greater importance. To date, Boudreau has commissioned approximately 500 pieces from some of the best composers in the world (Bolcom, Francaix, Penderecki, etc).

Paeans and Dances is a piece that many people know about, but few have heard. This problem is mainly due to the lack of available recordings. There is only one recording available (at least that I have found) by the Eastman Wind Ensemble conducted by Donald Hunsberger. This recording, "Fiesta!" (1968/1980) features H. Owen Reed's La Fiesta Mexicana, Roger Nixon's Fiesta del Pacifico, and Paeans and Dances. However, this recording is currently only available in LP format and no digital copy exists.

Editor's note: Since this post was authored, there has been a performance uploaded to YouTube.

Carlos Surinach, Paeans and Dances of Heathen Iberia,

Portland Youth Philharmonic, David Hattner, conductor

To give you an idea of what Surinach's music sounds like, here is the third movement of his Piano Concerto from 1973. The Spanish flavor of Surinach's music is evident right from the start and makes for quite a wild ride. Enjoy.

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