PALOMO: Andalusian Nocturnes

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Lorenzo Palomo

(b. 1938)

Nocturnos de Andalucia (Andalusian Nocturnes, 1996)

Canciones espanolas
(Spanish Songs, 1987-1994) Linked by friendship and by his Andalusian and musical rootsto the guitarist family of the Romeros, Lorenzo Palomo, responding to a requestfrom Pepe Romero, composed for him a full Suite concertante for guitarand orchestra (lasting approximately forty minutes) entitled Nocturnos de Andalucia (Andalusian Nocturnes). It unfolds in six movements, eachwith an expressive title: 'Brindis a la noche' (A Toast to the Night), 'Sonrisatruncada de unaestrella' (ShatteredSmile of a Star), 'Danza de Marialuna' (Dance of Marialuna), 'Rafaga' (Gust of Wind), 'Nocturno de Cordoba'(Nocturne of Cordoba) and 'El tablao' (The Flamenco Stage). The suite was firstperformed in Berlin on 27 January 1996, naturally enough with Pepe Romeroperforming as soloist and with Rafael Fr??hbeck de Burgos conducting the BerlinRadio Symphony Orchestra. It received such fervent applause that the artistshad to perform an encore of the fifth movement: 'Nocturno de Cordoba'.

The Cordoba in which the composer spent his childhood, theAndalusia of which he forever dreamed, with its poetic echoes of Juan Ramon Jimenez- 'Danza de Marialuna' takes its inspiration from the poet's verse 'La nina de blanco' (see Una primaveraandaluza) - and musicalechoes of flamenco, provide a constant inspiration for this very original work,which is both colourful and very deeply felt. Palomo shows great compositionalskill in writing for groups of instruments. Although a large orchestra is used,consisting of pairs of woodwind, four French horns, two trumpets, three trombones,tuba, timpani and a rich array of percussion, the problem of the balancebetween orchestra and the smaller sound of the guitar has been resolved. The orchestrais often heard tutti, but the sound diminishes progressively, giving waynaturally to the guitar. Conversely, in the passages for solo guitar,instruments and orchestral sections are added gradually to enable the transitionfrom the guitar's dialogue with woodwind, strings or percussion to fullorchestral outbursts to be realised in the most seamless of ways. Echoes of Spanishfolk-melodies, rhythms of Andalusian song and dance, lyricism and light, arethe characteristics of this unique work. Somewhat reluctantly, but with understandingfor the request of performers, who often encounter difficulties in programmingsuch a long concertante work, Palomo offers the option of omitting somemovements in order to present an abbreviated version, a sort of "suite de lasuite".

Since its premi?¿re in Berlin, Nocturnos de Andalucia hasbeen performed on fifty occasions in Germany, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Japan, the United States (in eleven different cities), and Cuba. The official Spanish premi?¿re took place at the National Auditorium on 11 October1996, during the Madrid Autumn Festival, with Pepe Romero, the Madrid SymphonyOrchestra and the conductor Fr??hbeck de Burgos. The same soloist and conductorwon the greatest acclaim for this work in the course of the American tour ofthe Spanish National Orchestra in 2001.

During his years in San Diego, California, from 1976 to1981, Lorenzo Palomo attended a concert in Los Angeles, given by the famousCatalan soprano Montserrat Caballe, whom he already knew from his days in Barcelona. She encouraged him to compose some songs for her voice and he set to the task immediately.

This was, in fact, the origin of the vocal cycle Del atardecer alalba (or Recuerdos de juventud).

Two years later they met again, this time in Berlin, and she told him that she was interested in the songs that she had received fromhim.

Finally, in a recital at New York's Carnegie Hall on 27February 1987, Montserrat Caballe, accompanied by Miguel Zanetti, gave thefirst performance of the songs, to warm acclaim. The composer, who was present,enjoyed this exceptional success, which proved to be of key importance for hiscareer, since it had a highly positive influence on the New York music critics.

This success was repeated soon after at London's Covent Garden, and theInternational Music Company of New York arranged to take charge of thepublication and world distribution of Palomo's vocal works.

As could be expected, the composer did not take long toreturn to the concert song genre and in 1992 he wrote the cycle Unaprimavera andaluza (An Andalusian Spring), a set of six songs, all based onverses by Juan RamonJimenez: 'Los alamos del rio'; 'La nina de blanco'; 'Solo t??'; 'Llueve, llueve';'Alborada' and 'Eres tan bella'. The premi?¿re of this new song cycle took place at the BerlinOpera, with the soprano Karan Armstrong and the pianist Hans Hilsdorf. Not longafterwards, at a suggestion from the conductor Miguel ?üngel Gomez Martinez,Lorenzo Palomo orchestrated both these song cycles. In their new symphonicversion, Del atardecer al alba and Una primavera andaluza werefirst given in Malaga by Marussa Xyni and the City of Malaga Orchestra underGomez Martinez on 15th April 1994.

The Malaga concert included the premi?¿re of two more songsby Lorenzo Palomo, 'Tientos' and 'Plenilunio', both of which had been writtenfor Montserrat Caballe a short time before and are based on poems by Antonio Gala.

The same artists would perform them with notable success in Hamburg (October1995) and Madrid (February - March 1996), while Maria Bayo would win success in Bilbao with her first public performance of Palomo's vocal music. The twocycles were published in New York and the two songs based on verses by Gala werepublished by SEEMSA in Madrid.

It is very interesting to observe up to what point Palomo'sclose contact with opera has left its mark on the character of his songs.

Indeed, in many of these pieces miniature dramas or, more exactly, small 'scenes',can be perceived, rather than concert songs in the traditional sense. This isthe case in the cycle Del atardecer al alba, with the song entitled 'Madre,cuando yo me case' (Mother, when I marry), in which the orchestralaccompaniment has a clearly narrative r??le, or in 'Cancion de la adelfa y el rio'(Song of the Adelfa andthe River), which is approached as a theatrical dialogue between the two 'characters'.

Even 'La puerta entornada' (The Door ajar) could be said to be influenced byopera, with its highly contrasting alternation between the orchestral part(lively and light) and the vocal part (very lyrical and expansively sung); thesame result may be heard in the masterpiece 'La nina de blanco' (The Maiden inWhite), in the cycle Una primavera andaluza, in which an evocative harpseems to sparkle and the almost ecstatic lyricism of the song is energized bythe orchestral interludes. Lastly, expressive and poetic intimacy reign in suchpieces as 'La muntanya d'amatistes' (The Amethyst Mountain) in the first cycleor 'Los alamos del rio' (The Poplar Trees by the River) in the Juan RamonJimenez cycle, while in 'Llueve, llueve' (Rain, Rain) the composer writes musicthat is in a certain sense impressionistic, with its almost pictorialexpressivity. 'Serrana' (Song of the Mountain), before reaching its impressivetreble ending, is nearer to folk-music than any other of these songs.

The body of Lorenzo Palomo's concert vocal music shows himto be one of the most successful composers in upholding the genre of Spanishsong expressed in a contemporary language. These pieces by Palomo are distinctivelySpanish without recourse to traditional melodic turns of phrase andstereotypical harmonies or rhythms. All his music is, moreover, graced with an unquestionablyp
Item number 8557135
Barcode 747313213528
Release date 04/01/2006
Category 20th Century
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Bayo, Maria
Romero, Pepe
Bayo, Maria
Romero, Pepe
Composers Palomo, Lorenzo
Palomo, Lorenzo
Conductors Burgos, Rafael Fruhbeck de
Burgos, Rafael Fruhbeck de
Orchestras Seville Royal Symphony Orchestra
Seville Royal Symphony Orchestra
Disc: 1
Del atardecer al alba o Recuerdo de juventud (From
1 I. Brindis a la noche (A Toast to the Night)
2 II. Sonrisa truncada de una estrella (Shattered Sm
3 III. Danza de Marialuna (Dance of Marialuna)
4 IV. Rafaga (Gust of Wind)
5 V. Nocturno de Cordoba (Nocturne of Cordoba)
6 VI. El tablao (The Flamenco Stage)
7 No. 1. Los alamos del rio (The Poplar Trees by the
8 No. 2. La nina de blanco (The Maiden in White)
9 No. 3. Solo tu (Only You)
10 No. 4. Llueve, llueve (Rain, Rain)
11 No. 5. Alborada (The Dawn)
12 No. 6. Eres tan bella (You are as beautiful as...)
13 Tientos (Touches)
14 Plenilunio (Full Moon)
15 No. 1. La puerta entornada (The Door Ajar)
16 No. 2. Madre, cuando yo me case (Mother, when I ma
17 No. 3. La muntanya d’amatistes (The Amethyst Mount
18 No. 4. Cancion de la aldelfa y el rio (Song of the
19 No. 5. Serrana (Song of the Mountain)
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