Guitar Recital: Pablo Sainz Villegas

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Pablo Sainz - Guitar Recital

Turina ?À Moreno Torroba ?À Rodrigo ?À Segovia ?À Falla ?ÀGerhard ?À Tarrega

The composers included here represent the interaction ofmodernism and romantic nationalism current in Spain during the first half ofthe twentieth century. How Spanish composers dealt with integrating theinherited musical wealth of their country's popular tradition with the infusionof new concepts of musical thought in Europe at the time is in itselfrevealing, contributing, in part, to the power of the music.

Joaquin Turina (1882-1949) contributed a small butsignificant body of pieces to the guitar repertoire. A friend of Manuel deFalla and student of Vincent d'Indy in Paris, he began his career with a PianoQuintet (1907) influenced by his Parisian studies. The style of that work soongave way to an exploration of the potentialities of Spanish folk-music,especially flamenco. This re-invigorated the harmony and rhythm of his musiceven as he maintained an affinity for cyclical and classical forms. The twoworks here included are Sevillana (Fantasia), Op. 29, (1923) and Homenaje aTarrega, Op. 69, (1932). These are the first and last pieces written for guitarby Turina, both directly inspired by flamenco music. Sevillana begins with astrong, dramatic gesture, somewhat rough and crude, as if a field workerapplied his dirty, calloused hands to the guitar. His fingers, tense from work,are incapable of independent movement, so he slides his gnarled fist around thefingerboard creating striking, expressive dissonances. The music soon evokesflamenco singing. The Homenaje a Tarrega consists of two movements, a garrotinand soleares. The work is nominally a hommage to the great Spanish guitaristFrancisco Tarrega (1852-1909), but is, perhaps, an unwitting acknowledgment ofTarrega's teacher, Julian Arcas.

The Sonata-Fantasia by Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982)was found among Segovia's manuscripts in May, 2001, by the great Italianmusician, Angelo Gilardino, and has been published by Berben Edizioni Musicali.Torroba's many solo guitar works consist mainly of short, descriptive pieces,often published in collections. This piece, a full- fledged sonata, is amongTorroba's most ambitious and masterful works. We can only venture to guess whySegovia never performed it, as it is clearly to his taste. Be that as it may,we are fortunate to have available a major contribution to guitar repertoireand to twentieth-century Spanish guitar sonatas in general, a collection thatincludes sonatas by Turina, Jose, Manen, and Espla. Torroba's music is firmlyrooted in Spanish nationalism with elements of impressionism occasionallypresent, such as the use of modes, parallelism, extended chords and a generalappreciation of colour. Those who know Torroba's work will be struck by theopening sonorities of the introduction, sonorities which lead, by way of anarpeggiated altered chord, to a passage of fourths and fifths, horns andtrumpets signaling to the listener the sonata's first theme. Throughout thecourse of the piece, Pablo Sainz Villegas chooses to finger many passages ofthis sonata campanelas, in imitation of the piano's sustaining pedal, thusallowing for the blurring effect of the French Impressionists. The secondmovement, a short intermezzo, is followed by the finale, a conventional Rondo.Also included are two movements from Torroba's Castillos de Espana, thelullaby, Sig??enza (La infantina duerma) and Torija (Elegia). The SuiteCastellana consists of three movements, Fandanguillo, a setting of a Spanishpopular song, the expressive Arada with its colourful harmony and indecisivemelodic turns, and Danza. This last movement of the suite was the first piecethat Torroba ever wrote for the guitar in 1920 .

Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999) lived a long, productive lifeand holds a place in the cultural life of Spain alongside Manuel de Falla. Hismusic was influenced by the neo-classicism of Stravinsky and the colourfulorchestration of Ravel. In addition, Rodrigo had a penchant for sharpdissonances that can be explained as bi-tonal, but this was often a colouristicdevice, sometimes used for humorous or sardonic effect. The two pieces here areamong the best solo guitar works of Rodrigo. The first is the brief En lostrigales (In the Wheat Fields), the outer sections of which have a mostinfectious rhythmic lilt. The middle section is a strange, quizzical march interruptedby syncopated harmonics and quartal harmonies. Invocacion y Danza is a greatwork, a hommage to Manuel de Falla. Rodrigo cleverly quotes El amor brujo inthe opening measures by simply placing the pitches of Falla's tune on the firstand last notes of each measure and interpolating four notes in between. Thetune is so stretched out as to be barely recognisable. Rodrigo quotes otherworks of Falla as well in loving tribute to his mentor.

Along with performers such as Artur Schnabel and PabloCasals, Andres Segovia, too, composed music, Segovia, perhaps, more modestly.His work 5 Anecdotas, published by Guitar Review in New York in 1947, is almostunknown, even though guitarists have taken up several Segovia compositions,most notably, the beautiful Estudio sin luz. This collection of little piecesis highly successful. If one takes the title as seriously as all titles shouldbe, there is more here than meets the ear. In fact, Segovia uses the directionhumoristico a few times and the music vaguely recalls, at least to the authorof these notes, Strauss's Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche. This music isquintessentially that of a great performer, one who composes on the side, hismusic full of familiar musical gestures set expertly on his instrument, in thiscase, with enough originality to invite investigation.

The Homenaje, pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy of Manuel deFalla (1876-1946) stands unequivocally among the masterpieces of the twentiethcentury. Written in 1920, it also stands squarely among Falla's neo-classicalworks, evoking the dedicatory tombeau genre as practiced by Baroque lutenistsand guitarists. A concise work of just about three minutes duration, the workwas written for an issue of the Paris Revue dedicated to the memory of therecently deceased Claude Debussy (1863-1918). In this work Falla combines ahabanera dance rhythm with a sighing, plaintive F-E pitch motif demonstratingthe duality of the corporal and the spiritual. Falla quotes Debussy's pianopiece Soiree dans Grenade near the end, the pitches of which transubstantiateinto Debussy's final breaths.

Spiritual tension is nowhere more apparent than in thefigure of Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970). Born in Spain of Alsatian andGerman-Swiss parentage, Gerhard identified himself as Catalan. A student ofGranados and Felipe Pedrell, he later became a student of, and an assistant to,Arnold Schoenberg. Among Gerhard's early activities was transcribing folk-songsfrom gramophone records, following the example of Bartok. Later he embracedtwelve-tone techniques and wrote pioneering electronic music. His Fantasia(1957) is a small masterpiece, written as an interlude for his set of songs,Cantares. In the Fantasia, Gerhard adroitly uses the symmetrical octatonicscale, exploiting the scale's potential to mimic that most Spanish of scales,the Phrygian mode. In addition, he mines the scale's bi-tonal possibilities.The music juxtaposes two contrasting sections, one lyrical and melodic,featuring arpeggiated chords supporting diaphanous harmonics, the other,enormously rhythmic and propulsive. The transitions to and from the sectionsare gauged with utter mastery of form.

The final work included is the miniature Maria - gavota byFrancisco Tarrega (1852-1909), who is often described as the father of themodern cla
Disc: 1
Maria - Gavota
1 Sevillana (Fantasia), Op. 29
2 I. Garrotin
3 II. Soleares
4 I. Lento - Allegretto
5 II. Allegretto
6 III. Allegro
7 Torija (Elegia)
8 Siguenza (La infantina duerma)
9 I. Fandanguillo
10 II. Arada
11 III. Danza
12 En los trigales
13 Invocacion y danza (Homenaje a Manuel de Falla)
14 Homenaje pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy
15 Fantasia: Interlude in Cantares
16 Allegretto
17 Allegro moderato con grazia
18 Lento malinconico
19 Molto tranquillo
20 Allegretto vivo
21 Maria - Gavota
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