Ponce’s Balada Mexicana

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One can literally ‘hear’ Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms and Liszt developing on Mexican themes in Ponce’s Balada Mexicana. – Tuhin Rao

Ponce’s early piano music, to me, is a mixture of Mexican folk sounds and brilliant European Romantic writing, but without quoting Mexican melodies.

Balada Mexicana is based on two beautiful songs El Durazno and Acuérdate de mí. What makes this piece special is that, while it uses Mexican melodies, the harmonies conform with the romantic European style. Written in 1915, with over a century of virtuosic piano music already in the concert repertoire, Ponce takes idiomatic compositional techniques for the piano to his advantage. One can literally ‘hear’ Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms and Liszt developing on Mexican themes in this piece.

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