Mario Lavista’s “Reflejos de la Noche”: Sonic Mirrors

Mario Lavista, one of the most acclaimed Mexican composers of his generation, passed away last Thursday at the age of 78.

Born in Mexico City, Lavista studied with Carlos Chávez, Héctor Quintanar, and Rodolfo Halffter at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música. In the 1960s, he went on to study in Paris with Henri Pousseur, Nadia Boulanger, Christoph Caskel, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. In 1970, he founded Quanta improvisation, an ensemble dedicated to spontaneous and experimental music. Lavista’s early work involved electronic music. His later output included chamber and orchestral works, the choral piece Missa ad Consolationis Dominam Nostram (inspired by early polyphony), and the opera, Aura. Beyond his music, Lavista will be remembered as a teacher, writer, and intellectual.

Mario Lavista’s single-movement String Quartet No. 2, composed in 1984, bears the evocative title, Reflejos de la Noche (“Reflections of the Night”). Throughout the piece, spectral harmonics swirl, ushering us into an ethereal nocturnal adventure. (Harmonics are produced when string players use the lightest finger weight, creating a magical new sound world). Lavista explained,

Using harmonics is, in some way, to work with reflected sounds; each of them is produced, or generated by a fundamental sound that we never get to hear: we only perceive its harmonics, its sound-reflection.

The score includes a brief poem entitled Eco by the Mexican poet, Xavier Villaurrutia (1903-1950):

La noche juega con los ruidos
copiándolos en sus espejos.
de sonidos.

The night plays with the noises
copying them in its mirrors
of sounds.

Reflejos de la Noche was Mario Lavista’s first collaboration with El Cuarteto Latinoamericano. Here is the Brodsky Quartet’s recording:

Natarayah

Latin American dance rhythms abound in Mario Lavista’s Natarayah for solo guitar:

Recordings

  • Lavista: String Quartet No. 2, Reflejos de la Noche, Brodsky Quartet Amazon
  • Lavista: Natarayah, David Starobin bridgerecords.com

Featured Image: Mario Lavista 

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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