With Mbókò, pianist-composer David Virelles – based now in New York but born and bred in Cuba – has taken the folkloric rhythms of Afro-Cuban religious ritual and transmuted them into a 21st-century music resonating with mystery and meaning. The main title, Mbókò, can mean “fundament” or “sugar cane” or “The Voice,” not the human voice but The Voice that is believed in Abakuá culture to be the voice of a spirit, or spirits. Sound is an element revered in this culture, and that idea – the worship of sound itself – was a shaping force in the performances of Virelles’ compositions on Mbókò.
Johann Mattheson gained lasting renown as a music writer with his two main works Die musikalische Ehrenpforte and Der vollkommene Kapellmeister, with the latter representing a foundational writing on cultural politics, musical aesthetics, and compositional practice in the first half of the eighteenth century. Mattheson was also himself a composer and experienced his most productive phase in this capacity during his years as cathedral music director at the Hamburg Cathedral (1715-28). He wrote twenty-four oratorios and other works for the cathedral music until increasing deafness forced him to resign from his post. That Mattheson is not at all known as a composer certainly has to do with the fact that a considerable portion of his compositional oeuvre was regarded as lost until 1998, when some works were rediscovered in a war evacuation depot in Erivan (Yerevan), Armenia. These works include Der liebreiche und geduldige David (The Loving and Patient David) of 1723, one of Mattheson’s last oratorios. It reveals him to us as a dramatically well-versed, highly imaginative musician who more than deserves his personal renaissance. cpo vows to take up his cause!