Romantic French Music for Guitar and Orchestra
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Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924)
There is a story that the great guitaristand transcriber, Miguel Llobet, once asked Debussy to write a piece for theguitar, but then failed to turn up for the appointment. Even if the story isapocryphal the fact remains that one of the twentieth century composers who wasbest suited temperamentally to write for the guitar never did. Manuel de Falla,who in fact did write a guitar piece, dedicated it to the memory of Debussy,simultaneously fulfilling a commission from Llobet. The piece, a homage toDebussy, quotes from La soiree dans Grenade, of which de Falla had thisto say: "The intense feeling of Spain crystallized in La soiree dansGrenade is something of a miracle if one considers that it was written by aforeigner, led only by a brilliant intuition". I hope that myorchestration of this piece returns the compliment to de Falla, quoting as itdoes from his own orchestration of Hommage ?á Debussy, and that thiscollection goes some way towards filling a noticeable gap in the guitarrepertoire.
Most of the pieces transcribed wereoriginally for the piano - La fille aux cheveux de lin
, La soireedans Grenade
and Clair de lune
are taken from larger collections - Preludes,Estampes
and Suite bergamasque
respectively. Doctor Gradus adParnassum
, The Little Shepherd
and Golliwog's Cake-walk
arefrom Children's Corner Suite
, dedicated to Debussy's daughter,Chou-Chou, and En bateau
and Ballet are from the Petite suite
The other pieces by Debussy are isolatedearly compositions and I have tried to choose those which show a wide range ofinfluences from the dry plains of Andalusia to the water-gardens of Japan byway of the theatre and circus atmosphere of late nineteenth century Paris.
Debussy does with sound what the Impressionist painters were doing with light.
His compositions are a natural choice for arrangement and this selectionhighlights the mellow tones of the guitar against the rainbow hues of the orchestra.
Debussy himself was no stranger to theorchestra. He not only produced such ambitious works as Images, Lamer and Pelleas et Melisande, but also orchestrated several works byother composers. One of these was the anarchical Erik Satie who influenced bothDebussy and Ravel, who tried for many years to gain him public recognition.
Satie's Gymnopedies are his best known compositions and I have followedDebussy's lead in orchestrating the first and third. The mysterious titlesuggests ancient Greek dances. Satie's eccentricity did not gain him friends inthe musical establishment, and for some years he was forced to make a living asa night-club pianist. Je te veux is taken from the piano version of arather direct love-song made famous at that time by Paulette Darty, known asthe Queen of the Slow Waltz. I have used the full orchestra, eachsection of which awaits its turn in a sort of Homage to Hollywood. The endinghas nothing to do with Satie at all, but I hope that he would appreciate thehumorous intention of the quotation from La valse, one of Ravel's largerorchestral works.
Another composer under the spell ofMaeterlinck's story Pelleas and Melisande was the one-time director ofthe Paris Conservatoire, Gabriel Faure. Sicilienne, originally orchestratedby Faure's pupil Charles Koechlin, is taken from his incidental music to thedrama and occurs at the point where Melisande loses her wedding-ring in afountain. The Pavane Op. 50 originally included a choral part and evokesthe Middle Ages. It aptly illustrates Debussy's comment on his music -"Theplay of fleeting curves that is the essence of Faure's music can be compared tothe movements of a beautiful woman without either suffering from thecomparison".
G. Garcia ?® 1992
At his 1979 Wigmore Hall debut in London,one critic hailed Gerald Garcia as a performer of rare quality and he has beendescribed by John Williams as one of today's foremost guitarists. Garcia hasmade many tours of the Far East and Europe and has appeared at the majorinternational festivals in Great Britain, including the Edinburgh, Aldeburghand South Bank Festivals. His concert engagements have included performanceswith many leading ensembles and soloists, among them the London Sinfonietta,John Williams and Friends and Paco Pefia. With the flautist Clive Conway he hastoured and broadcast extensively in Britain and has played at the GlastonburyPop Festival and on the ocean liner the QE II. Gerald Garcia was born in HongKong and now lives in Oxford, his base for a busy career as recitalist,composer and conductor.
Czecho-Slovak State PhilharmonicOrchestra (Kosice)
The East Slovakian town of Kosice boasts a longand distinguished musical tradition, as part of a province that once providedVienna with musicians. The State Philharmonic Orchestra is of relatively recentorigin and was established in 1968 under the conductor Bystrik Rezucha.
Subsequent principal conductors have included Stanislav Macura and Ladislav Slovak, the lattersucceeded in 1985 by his pupil Richard Zimmer. The orchestra has toured widelyin Eastern and Western Europe and plays an important part in the Kosice MusicalSpring and the Kosice International Organ Festival.
For Marco Polo the orchestra has made thefirst compact disc recordings of rare works by Granville Bantock and JoachimRaft .Writing on the last of these, one critic praised the orchestra for itscompetence comparable to that of the major orchestras of Vienna and Prague. Theorchestra has contributed many successful volumes to the complete compact discJohann Strauss II and for Naxos has recorded a varied repertoire.
Peter Breiner was born in 1957 at Humennein Eastern Slovakia where he started piano lessons at the age of four. He wenton to study at the Bratislava Conservatory and then at the Prague College ofMusic and Drama, concentrating at the latter in composition. On completing hisstudies he began work as musical supervisor of the Czechoslovak Radio inBratislava and for OPUS Records and Publishing House. He has had a variedcareer which has involved the conductorship of the Czechoslovak RadioChildren's Choir, regular piano performances at jazz concerts and working as anorchestral conductor and arranger.