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23/11/2016 - Works by Salvador Brotons, Jaume Pahissa, Gaspar Cassadó, Juan Durán, Manuel Oltra and Francesc Taverna-Bech.

Sea and land, moving landscapes, imagination «as the ability to form images which overcome reality, which sing reality», in the words of Gaston Bachelard. We present you with a collection of works, inspired by sea and inland landscapes, also adding a recent piece, on another kind of sight.

 

Near the Mediterranean

Salvador Brotons captures the wind, sea and waves of the Catalan Costa Brava in his Costa Brava Overture (Catalan Rhapsody n.4). From the very beginning, restless 16th notes become a recurrent element. These notes, transformed and transfigured, articulate and drive the piece. Apart from this fidgety main motive, the music calms down at times, as if trying to reflect the light of the Empordà region in the North of Catalonia. Solo lines with espressivo and dolce indications provide contrast with the main theme. This work was recorded in the CD Brotons, Orchestra Music.

We’re in 1906. A young, 26-year-old, Jaume Pahissa premieres one of his first symphonic works, Upon the Mediterranean Coast, in the Novetats theatre in Barcelona. This work is built around an initial «majestic» theme. Its treatment includes Pahissa’s learnings in his student times, such as the fugue (Allegro con brio) in the middle of the piece. As is written in the score, «Clear, luminous symphonic music, like our blue sea and our cloudless days». In later years, Pahissa will continue to write orchestra music and to premiere, sometimes by the Pau Casals Orchestra, with great impact on both critics and the audience – like in the premiere of his Monòdia.

 

Near the Atlantic

Although Gaspar Cassadó has been a renowned cellist, contemporary to Pau Casals, in recent years, he is becoming a more and more recognised composer. We present you with Nocturnes Portuguais, Esquisses Symphoniques poru Violoncello Obbligato et orchestre. Two main features define this work: its concertante set up and its andante mosso tempo. Curiously enough, the author deleted the original annotation lento ed evocative, which better suggested the work’s atmosphere. Maurice Ravel comes to mind with the subtle orchestration of these Nocturnals, as all the melodic material stems from the main theme. Thus, the clear orchestration, a controlled virtuosity which puts expression fist, and melodies spotted with saudade moments make this short pieces into an example of Gaspar Cassadó’s creative personality.

The second example, Alborada de noite e de luz by Juan Durán, is a symphonic suite based on Galician folk themes. It is heavily contrasted, night and day, the strength of rhythmic, radiant folk themes juxtaposed to dark, nightly moments. It is a strictly Galician piece of music, with straight forward usage of popular dances such as the muiñeira, which conveys the deep link between the sea landscapes and Galician artists. As Rosalía de Castro put it, «The muffled, constant murmur of the waves lures me in to the rough sea, like the song of the sirens».

Cantata Finisterrae, premiered in 2001, and Alborada de noite e de luz, premiered in 2012, are provably the two most successful works by Galician composer Juan Durán.

 

From water, to land

Manuel Oltra subtitles La Serra (The Mountains) as Poem for choir, soloists and orchestra. The text is the poem with the same title by Majorcan Joan Alcover, dedicated to the rural life in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains in Majorca. The structure of the music is based on the poem.

After a peaceful introduction by the soloist mezzosoprano, which sets the bucolic atmosphere, the soloist baritone takes part: «who bringeth the verse full of perfumes». The tempo tranquillo changes abruptly after the mention of «l’aviram la volta amb gran volateig» (the fluttering fowls), sung by the choir, with a fast, airy movement. Contrasts continue. From the lento «...and then the dark night», we transition to the allegro «Oh dour range of giant mountains!».

Manuel Oltra’s personality is shown in the well solved changes and contrasts, which form a solid formal unit. As can be read in the score, the author is «always in search for evocative sonorities of our musical tradition».

 

Interior landscape

Francesc Taverna-Bech dedicated Les Nits (The Nights) to the orchestra director Paul Decker, who, when he was the artistic director of the Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra, premiered many works by Catalan composers. This work features a dark, nostalgic pathos, which connects the time of the day with an inner feeling. Its subtle tone shows a sensitive author, thoughtful to detail. The Nights is divided into three short movements, nearly miniatures: «The Calm Night», with short, rising lines combined with clear, recognisable motives, «The Night of Anguish», where tension builds up and the short motives come back, repeated and transformed, and «The Moon Passes By», which starts with faint, transforming sounds. Three Miniatures that put forth the vitality and ability to inspire of the music of our time.

 

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