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2.110310 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - SPAIN: A Musical Visit to Andalusia, Sitges, Seville and Granada (NTSC)

A Musical Visit to Spain
With music by Maurice Ravel and Isaac Albéniz



Andalusia: Sancti Petri Landscape

Sancti Petri lies to the west of Chiclana de la Frontera, near Cádiz. The vegetation of the region is characteristic.

Music Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole – I. Prélude à la nuit

Maurice Ravel was born in 1875 in the small coastal village of Ciboure in the Basque region of France. His father, from the Jura, was an engineer and his mother a Basque, from Ciboure, and it was from her that he inherited an interest in Spain. His Rapsodie espagnole was completed in 1908, after a two-piano version of the work the previous October. It consists of four movements, opening with the evocative Prélude à la nuit.


Andalusia: Landscape

Typical of the vegetation of the region is the cactus, and of its agricultural activity the breeding of bulls.

Music Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole – II. Malagueña

Rapsodie espagnole was Ravel’s first major orchestral work, a demonstration of his originality and of his gifts as an orchestrator. The music moves from the stillness of night, with its four-note descending motif, to a characteristic Spanish dance, the Malagueña, in which the same motif is heard.


Andalusia: Landscape

The fields and sloping hills of Andalusia are seen, with farm-houses in the distance.

Music Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole – III. Habanera

A short introduction ushers in the Habanera, a movement that aroused the particular interest of Debussy, who was said to have imitated it in his Soirée de Grande.


Andalusia: Medin-Sidonia

Roman in origin, the town of Medina-Sidonia became the property of the Guzman family, with their ducal title taken from the place. It was a 16th century Duke of Medina-Sidonia who commanded the Spanish Armada in 1588. The town retains part of its original ramparts, the Arco de la Pastora, a relic of the Moorish occupation. The church of Sta Maria has a tower, standing out above the town.

Music Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole – IV. Feria

Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole ends with the celebration of a holiday in Feria.


Catalonia: Sitges

The resort of Sitges lies on the coast between Barcelona and Tarragona. The Church of San Bartolomeu i Santa Tecian built in the 17th century, is approached by steps from the promenade. The town now has a considerable foreign population.

Music Albéniz: Iberia – I. Evocación

The first book of the piano suite Iberia by Albéniz, 12 Nouvelles impressions en quatre cahiers (12 New Impressions in Four Books), was published in 1905 and dedicated to the widow of the French composer Ernest Chausson. The first piece, Evocación, is gently evocative, identifiably Spanish yet recognisably in the spirit of French music of the period. Marked Allegretto espressivo, its first theme is set over a syncopated accompaniment and leads to a secondary theme of clearer Spanish connotation. As with the other excerpts from Iberia included here it was orchestrated by Enrique Fernandez Arbos.


Andalusia: Seville Cathedral

Reputedly the largest Gothic church in the world, the Cathedral of Seville was built in the 15th century on the site of a 12th century mosque. The doorways are ornamented with a variety of sculpted figures and the adjacent Giralda towers above it to the north-east. The elaborate interior of the Cathedral, dimly illuminated by its stained glass windows, holds many treasures, with its royal chapel, the ornamented retablo of the Capilla Mayor and statues of the Blessed Virgin.

Music Albéniz: Iberia – II. El Corpus en Sevilla

The first book of Iberia ends with Fête-Dieu à Séville, generally given in later editions as El Corpus en Sevilla, inspired by the Corpus Christi celebrations in Seville. The procession is heard approaching, with its band and the cries of its penitents, before it passes, leaving the street deserted, to the sound of distant church bells.


Andalusia: Landscape

Something of the fertility of Andalusia is seen in its plains and hills, disturbed by a gentle southern breeze.

Music Albéniz: Iberia – III. Triana

Albéniz completed the second book of Iberia in 1896 and dedicated it to the pianist Blanche Selva. The closing piece, Triana, suggests the gypsy district of Seville and its flamenco traditions.


Andalusia: Granada – El Albaicín

The Albaicín is the oldest part of Granada and reflects Moorish influence in its narrow alleys and Moorish houses.

Music Albéniz: Iberia – IV. El Albaicín

The third book of Iberia was completed towards the end of 1896 and dedicated to Marguerite Hasselmans. El Albaicín, the gypsy quarter of Granada, is depicted in a movement marked Allegro assai, ma melancolico which brings its own dynamic climax.


Andalusia: Arcos de la Frontera

Arcos de la Frontera is set on a rocky hillside from which it dominates the plains below. Iberian in origin, it was held by the Romans and by the Moors, before the latter’s defeat by Alfonso X in 1264.

Music Albéniz: Zambra granadina

It was in London that Albéniz wrote his Zambra grandina, a dance here arranged for guitar and orchestra by Peter Breiner.


Andalusia: Sunset in Granada

The sun slowly sets over Granada, as the heat of day moves into the relative coolness of the night.

Music Albéniz: Asturias

Asturias (Leyenda), one of the best known of the piano pieces by Albéniz, added by his publisher to the Suite española, Op. 47, is heard in a transcription for guitar and orchestra by Peter Breiner. In spite of its title, it has no connection with the region of its title.

Keith Anderson

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