Ensemble Machetes, El Cimarrón by H.W.Henze

HANS WERNER HENZE is one of 20th century’s most active and interesting composers. His piece ”El Cimarrón” (described as a recital for four musicians), was composed in 1970 and counts as one of his major dramatic, musical achievements.

”El Cimarrón” means runaway slave. The text narrates the story about the life of a Cuban named Esteban Montejo, who was 104 years old when Miguel Barnet wrote a book about his life in 1960’s. Montejo grew up on a sugar plantation in terrible circumstances, escaped and spent a part of his life in the woods, returned when slavery was abolished, participated in the war of liberation against the Spaniards, observed the commercialization of Cuban society, and was still alive when Fidel Castro came to power.

Ensemble Machetes is a group of four musicians from four different countries – Finland, Germany, Mexico and Croatia. The Ensemble performs mainly contemporary music, but also music from folkloric origin. The members of Ensemble Machetes met in 2005 as students of Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, the Netherlands, where they used to gather and explore modern music techniques. The focus of their performances lies in theatrical perspective – music is often connected with a visual imagination.
All the members are experienced contemporary music performers: Flautist Gregor Schulenburg has performed with various musicians and chamber groups, i.a. Ensemble Modern. Guitarist Mislav Režić leads an active international solo career and often premieres new pieces. José Garcia, who is also a member of the well known Slagwerk group The Hague, works intensively with contemporary composers to explore new ways to produce sounds and even invent new instruments, also with combined electronics. Jussi Lehtipuu has premièred a Dutch contemporary opera by A. Noordegraaf and has performed other sorts of works by L. Dallapiccola, T. Keuris, P. Haapanen etc.
Members of the ensemble are winners of numerous international prizes (eg. Gaudeamus music competition, Luxemburg percussion competition, Zwolle & Enschede guitar festivals) and individually they are involved in numerous ensemble and solo projects in major festivals and music halls, from North America to Europe and Asia.
Their recent performances of Henze’s El Cimarrón in renowned festivals such as Time of Music in Finland, SMAHS Modern music festival or Split summer festival in Croatia were very well acclaimed both from the critic and the audience.

About Ensemble Machetes’ performance of Henze’s El Cimarrón at Time of Music Festival in Viitasaari, Finland

This “recital for four musicians” is a full package from beginning to the end.

Helsingin Sanomat, July 2011