Viva Espana: The Music of Spain (Kenneth Jean/ Martin Sauer/ Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.550174)
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Music of Spain
Manuel de Falla (1876 - 1946) Suite No.1
The Three-Cornered Hat (El sombrero detres picos)
Ritual Fire Dance from El amor brujo
Interlude and Dance from La v Ida breve
Isaac Albeniz (1860 - 1909)
(Excepts from the orchestral arrangementof Iberia by Enrique Fernandez Arbos)
El Corpus en Sevilla
Manuel de Falla y Matheu was the leadingSpanish composer of his generation, writing music that was both acceptableinternationally, and yet captured the essence of all that is Spanish. He wasborn in Cadiz in 1876 and had his first music lessons from his mother, Catalanby birth. His early education was in Cadiz, a city that allowed him to develophis musical talents and interests and introduced him to the music of theNorwegian composer Edvard Grieg, whose nationalist example he resolved tofollow. By the age of seventeen he had already decided to be a composer and towrite music that expressed in worthy terms the spirit of his own country, somethingin which his immediate predecessors had had no very significant success.
Foreign composers had turned their hand to the composition of Spanish music,but the nineteenth century had produced little of significance, until theadvent of the Catalan composers Isaac Albeniz and Enrique Granados, whoseachievement Manuel de Falla was to excel.
From Cadiz de Falla moved to theConservatory in Madrid, where he was joined by the rest of his family, whom hehelped to support by writing popular music. The principal musical influence onhim in Madrid was Felipe Pedrell, who had also guided Albeniz and Granadostowards a new kind of musical nationalism. After some success with othercompositions, de Falla wrote music of more lasting worth in his opera Lavida breve, completed in 1905 and first performed in Nice in 1913. In thesame year it was staged at the Opera-Comique in Paris, at the suggestion ofPaul Dukas. By then de Falla had already been in the French capital for sixyears, in contact with Ravel and Debussy, and broadening his technique in a waythat would have been difficult in the relative isolation of Madrid.
In 1914 de Falla returned to the Spanishcapital, where his ballet El amor brujo was staged successfully in 1915.
The choreographer and principal dancer was Pastora Imperio, wife of thetoreador El Galio and daughter of the famous gypsy dancer La Mejorana, fromwhom the composer derived a more intimate knowledge of this aspect of Spanishtradition. At the same time he began his long study of Cante jondo, the folkmusic of Andalusia. Meanwhile for the Russian impresario Dyagilev, who hadtoyed with the idea of making use of Noches en los jardines de Espana (Nightsin the Gardens of Spain), for piano and orchestra, for a Spanish ballet, hewrote the ballet score El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-CorneredHat), first staged in London by the Ballets Russes in 1919. In the same year hemoved to Granada, where he remained until the end of the Spanish Civil War. In1939 he accepted an appointment in Buenos Aires and died in Argentina in 1946,his final massive choral work, Atlantida, unfinished, although it hadoccupied him intermittently for some twenty years.
Manuel de Falla's ballet TheThree-Cornered Hat, originally a pantomime under the title El corregidory la molinera, is based on a story by Pedro Antonio de Alarcon. The plotconcerns the jealousy of a miller, whose attractive wife has been subjected tothe attentions of the senile Corregidor. The ballet was mounted in 1919 withdecor by Picasso and choreography by Leonid Massin and includes examples oftraditional Spanish dances.
El amor brujo,with its famous Ritual Fire Dance, tells the story of the gypsy girl Candelas,haunted by the spirit of her dead lover, exorcised finally by the ritual dance,which allows her to marry her new lover, Carmelo. The two-act opera La vidabreve, written ten years earlier, deals with the jealousy of Salud, whosebeloved Paco marries another, to be cursed by Salud, who falls dead of a brokenheart at the feet of the one she had loved.
Isaac Albeniz, an older contemporary ofManuel de Falla, was born in the province of Lerida in 1860, and made his debutas a pianist in Barcelona at the age of four, moving with his mother to Paristhree years later. Before long he was back in Spain once more, but escaped fromhis family to give concerts in various parts of Spain and then in South Americaand the United States. Returning to Europe, he studied for a time on a Spanishscholarship in Brussels, and then attached himself to Liszt, who became histeacher. Other important influences were Felipe Pedrell in Madrid, and PaulDukas and Vincent d'lndy in Paris, where he was to meet Manuel de Falla inlater years. He died in 1909.
The best known work by Albeniz is hispiano suite Iberia, the composition of which occupied him during the last threeyears of his life. Eight of the pieces were arranged by his contemporary, theSpanish composer and conductor Enrique Fernandez Arbos for orchestra. Trianawas performed under his direction at the ISCM meeting in Barcelona in 1939, andhis arrangements of seven more of the fourteen pieces of the collection wonwide popularity.
Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra(Bratlslava)
The Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra(Bratislava), the oldest symphonic ensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929 atthe instance of Milos Ruppeldt and Oskar Nedbal, prominent personalities in thesphere of music. Ondrej Lenard was appointed its conductor in 1970 and in 1977its conductor-in-chief. The orchestra has given successful concerts both athome and abroad, in West and East Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Denmark, France,Spain, Italy, and Great Britain.
Kenneth Jean Associate Conductor of theChicago Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Rorida Symphony Orchestra,Kenneth Jean is a young conductor making his presence known both nationally andinternationally. Born in New York City, he grew up in Hong Kong and returned tothe United States in 1967 to live in San Francisco. After violin studies at SanFranciso State University, he entered the Juilliard School at the age of 19 andwas accepted into the conducting class of Jean Morel. The following year, hemade his Carnegie Hall debut with the Youth Symphony Orchestra of New York andwas immediately engaged as the orchestra's Music Director.
Kenneth Jean made his European debut in1980 at the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Aberdeen, Scotlandand has since returned regularly. Other orchestras he has conducted include theSt. Louis Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Scottish Chamber Orchestra,Orchestra of the Swiss Radio, Park Theatre Orchestra of Stockholm, the BelgradeStrings and the South West German Radio Orchestra of Baden-Baden at theDonaueschingen Festival of Contemporary Music. He was awarded the 1983-84Leopold Stokowski Conducting Award by the American Symphony Orchestra. He hasconducted that orchestra on various occasions, including a subscription concertin Carnegie Hall.
From 1979 until 1985 Kenneth Jean servedas Resident Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Previously, he was theConducting Assistant of the Cleveland Orchestra for two seasons.
He has recorded works by Mendelssohn,Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Ravel for Naxos.