Cordero | La garita del diablo for guitar, choir & strings

Cordero | La garita del diablo for guitar, choir & strings

Model: DO 859 ISBN: 9782895036340
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Composer: CORDERO, Ernesto
Instrumentation: Baritone solo, SATB, String Orchestra and Guitar
Level: Advanced
72 p. + separated parts for guitar and string Orchestra

I - La historia de la garita MP3
II - El mar MP3
III - Dina y Flor de AzaharMP3

for string orchestra, choir, baritone and guitar

La Garita del Diablo (The Devil’s Sentry Box)

Ernesto Cordero’s compositions employ rhythmic structures and melodic influences which portray a hybrid cultural legacy that amalgamates African, mulatto, Creole, and European traits. These are distinctive throughout his extensive body of works which presently encompasses eight concerts, a fantasy for symphonic orchestra, multiple art songs, solo guitar pieces, choral compositions, chamber music, and a cantata. By commission from the Casals Festival (2013 edition), Cordero writes his second secular cantata, La Garita del Diablo (The Devil’s Sentry Box), which also partakes of the ethno-cultural harmonic and melodic fusion that characterizes Puerto Rican traditional music. 

The text for La Garita del Diablo is Ernesto Cordero’s adaptation of a fantastic short story which Cayetano Coll y Toste (1850-1930) compiled as part of his work Leyendas y tradiciones puertorriquenas (Puerto Rican Legends and Traditions). The bass soloist narrates the well-known account which transformed this celebrated military outpost in Old San Juan into a cursed place, feared and remembered as the symbol of the passionate romance between Dina, a Creole young woman, and Sanchez, an Andalusian soldier. The elements that comprise the cantata reflect Cordero’s clear predilection for the intimacy of chamber music. He craftily combines orchestrational and vocal resources that provide both richness of timbre and warmth of sound, within the context of the composition’s highly concise form.

The first movement describes the emblematic sentry box in Old San Juan’s San Cristobal (Saint Christopher) fortress. The orchestra depicts the historical period in which the legend takes place through baroque-styled references that include the use of recitativo accompagnato, sequences and pedal points, as well as the affective description of its characters and their emotions. This is combined with a colorful quotation of the typical melodic and harmonic pattern of the seis milonga, a Creole folkloric genre, chosen to contextualize the story in the sonorous atmosphere of Puerto Rico. The bass soloist and the choir share a vibrant introductory narration which tells about the fortification of the city of San Juan and describes the mysterious sentry post.

The second movement features the sea as protagonist. An agitato beginning of abrupt and somber superimposed fifths precedes the bass’s fantastic tale. With a profound voice, the narrator blames the Devil or the sea for the disappearance of several sentries and, perhaps, of the lovers as well. Immediately, the choir imitates the motion of the waves with a delicate vocalise based on the perfect fourth. The movement ends with a romantic and melancholic endecha (a lament song in cantabile tempo) played on Flor de Azahar’s (Sánchez) guitar, sung by the choir bocca chiusa,and reinstated from afar by the orchestra.

The final movement begins with lively Andalusian motives which alternate between the strings and the guitar. This is followed by a quote taken from the Puerto Rican seis mapeye, the harmonic structure of which derives from the progression popularly known as the Andalusian cadence. Cordero’s choral rendering of the mapeye alongside the flamenco instrumental passages become a secret language between the lovers. In this way, the guitar personifies Flor de Azahar’s voice with a vibrant Spanish solea rhythm. This is followed by yet another incarnation of the male lover in the bass’s voice, who describes the frantic love encounter in a neo-romantic waltz of transparent harmonies. The choir assumes the role of Dina and responds to her lover while maintaining the ternary pulse. The work concludes with the bass soloist, who personifies the narrator for the last time as he contemplates two options for the lovers’ mysterious disappearance: Did they seek refuge within the dense vegetation of the El Yunque rainforest, or did the Devil abduct them? The choir suddenly provides the answer: “Oh! He (Sanchez) took her, all right!”

Program notes: Guarionex Morales MatosEnglish translation: Daniel Alejandro Tapia Santiago


  • Model: DO 859
  • Manufactured by: d'Oz/Doberman
  • Condition: New
  • ISBN: 9782895036340

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