Also Available


Daydreams of Cuba

Maria Matilde Alea, Andres Alen, Enrique Anckermann, Jorge Anckermann, Maria Emma Botet, Silvano Boudet, José Fernández De Coca, Pedro Garcia, Harold Gramatges, Ernesto Lecuona, Miguel Faílde Pérez, Manuel Saumell, Cesar Perez Sentenat, Rene Touzet, Felipe Valdés, Gaspar Villate




"...the pieces give us national miniatures that capture the dance aesthetic of Cuba..."
Gary Lemco, Fanfare [March/April 2022]
"Casanova assembles a fascinating program by Cuban composers."
Kang, American Record Guide [September/October 2021]
"In some piano music...small pieces are entirely self-contained and are designed to encapsulate just one feeling, attitude or thought. Elena Casanova offers a heaping helping of them on a disc called Ensueños de Cuba, which has no fewer than 44 tracks – meaning the average piece here is just about a minute and a half long. Yet the works are quite evocative within their limited time span – and all of them speak of Cuba, its history and turmoil and beauty and grace and above all its dances. Casanova was born in Cuba, and for her this recital is a tribute to her homeland – but for anyone of any background, it will evoke feelings of nostalgia and memory even if the specific memories Casanova celebrates through this material are not a listener’s own... [this is] an evocative musical program that shows the piano’s ability to bring forth a pleasantly nostalgic set of thoughts, feelings and moods."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [May 2021]
"Casanova’s CD includes 44 short-but-vital piano works from sixteen different composers... Each of these works is highly rhythmic, revealing what has made Cuban music, with its Afro-Cuban roots, so distinctive in the world. As a result, the recording’s pieces flow together into a complete listening experience, while Casanova plays them lovingly and joyfully, recalling her discovery of them as a student and why they remain her inspiration... The rhythms of this music Casanova has so skillfully and passionately rendered may grab hold of your soul, allowing you to become Cuban for a while – the mark of a great pianist!"
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [May 2021]
The idea for this album came to me when my two young children were taking piano lessons. As they were developing musically, I became obsessed with giving them diverse musical experiences. I myself had expanded from a classical musical upbringing into other improvisational forms and it had been a natural process. I was puzzled by my ability to blend in with the different styles without having a complete understanding of the genres as I collaborated with jazz musicians.

In 2011 on a family trip to Florida, we visited my dear conservatory piano teacher, Marilola, who I consider my musical Mother. While we were talking about music for children, she brought out a series of books I recognized from long ago. Memories of being seven years old, studying at the music conservatory in Cuba came fl ooding back. One book particularly stood out and that was the “Miniaturas Rítmicas Cubanas”. The composer, Maria Matilde Alea, who I often saw at the conservatory, wrote these pieces for the students and they are still now considered part of the early education pedagogy core in Cuba.

Alea received many awards in her career from the Ministerio de Cultura in Cuba and consistent international recognition – but not nearly as much as she deserved. As a little girl I played the Guajira, Ritmo de Son, Canción de la Esclava, Bolero, and many more and I loved them. Little did I know the importance these formative works would play in my musical career. Cuban classical musicians the world over are recognized for their rhythmic connection and their ability to apply rhythm and meter to different genres of music. I fi nd that it is not only because of our Afro-Cuban roots, it is because of the training we received. The roots are important, the early education was crucial, but the tools that we were given from our teachers are extraordinary.

This was my Aha! moment. Ensueños de Cuba is a nostalgic musical travelogue of not just Alea, but of the many Cuban composers and teachers that shaped my musical career. This is my gift to my children – honoring the roots, honoring the composers and honoring the teachers that provided the musical diversity that shaped me as a teacher, performer and Mom! [Elena Casanova, January 2021]

Elena Casanova has a special enthusiasm for the music of Cuba where she was born, which has inspired her to perform and record a great deal of music of her roots. A performer as well as a musician, Elena has collaborated with numerous artists and is as comfortable playing chamber music as well as improvising on Latin tunes; music is the core of her life. An unbreakable spirit, engaging style, joyfulness and passion are always present. Elena studied at the Alejandro Garcia Caturla Music Conservatory in Havana, San Francisco Conservatory and Pacifi c Union College. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Redlands in California. Casanova studied with Robert Bowman, Daniel Glover, Annie Kim (a student of the Cuban pianist Jorge Bolet), Louanne Long, Maria D. “Marilola” Vasquez Robles, Tom Turinia, and Dr. Lynn Wheeler. [elenacasanovamusic.com]

Brian Hanson and Adrian Hanson

Warm, safe and fluid
The sound came to my brain
No thought had formed within it yet
But music was the frame

A song, a note
A hammer on a string
My soul had found its voice
In an upright it began to sing

As I play my life today
For those who come from far away
I cherish every path I’ve walked
For it made me what I am today

Violin, oboe,
Horn and song
Cacophony so rich
Where I belonged

Learned lives
guided me so
Honed my skill
And helped me grow

The mango tree
My brothers climbed
The walk to church
The bussing line

I bring to you
In phrase and tears
Through my hands
And to your ears

My life and mentors
Left behind
That still live on
Within my mind

A la Antigua
La Cardenense

Las Alturas de Simpson

PEDRO GARCIA (unknown)
Recuerdos de Cuba

SILVANO BOUDET (1828–1863)

Ave Maria Gallo

GASPAR D. VILLATE (1851–1891)
Como Tú Quieras

FELIPE B. VALDÉS (unknown)
La Bella Cubana

Señorita (Danza)

La Kalunga

MANUEL SAUMELL (1818–1870)
La Luz
El Somatén
La Paila
La Niña Bonita
Lamentos de Amor
La Tedezco

Una Tarde de 1800
Tristeza junto al Mar
Vitrales de mi Casa
Bolero No.2
Bolero No.3
Canción de la Esclava
Canción del Esclavo
Fiesta en el Batey
Pionerito Alegre
Así soy Yo
Fantasía en Son
Paseo en el Campo
Ritmo de Son
Se Oye un Tambor
Viene el Cabildo

MARIA EMMA BOTET (1903–1989)
Dancita de Ayer No.1
Dancita de Ayer No.2
Dancita de Ayer No.3
Dancita de Ayer No.4


ANDRES ALEN (b.1950)
Danzón LeGrand

Señora Santana
Palomita Blanca

RENE TOUZET (1916–2003)
Entre La y Re

Recorded at Laughing Coyote Studios in Redwood Valley, CA. Produced by: Elena Casanova and Kevin Axt. Recording Engineer: Bobby Cochran. Editing Engineers: Bobby Cochran and Kevin Axt. Mixing Engineer: Kevin Axt. Mastering Engineer: Neal Harris, Synergistic Audio Services. Piano Technician: Spencer Brewer. Recorded with vintage Neumann M582 microphones.

MSR Classics
Remembering the Maestros of Cuban Classical