About this Recording
8.225164 - BARRIOS / INFANTE: Piano Music

Angel Barrios (1882-1964)

Angel Barrios (1882 – 1964)

Manuel Infante (1883 – 1958)

Music for Piano


Angel Barrios was a composer, guitarist and violinist, son of the famous flamenco guitarist and singer Antonio Barrios, 'El Polinario', owner of the bar of the same name and friend of Falla.


Barrios studied violin and piano in Granada with Antonio Segura, Lorca's music teacher. He consolidated his training in Madrid, with Conrado del Campo, and in Paris, with Andre Gedalge. From 1900 to 1910 he spent periods in the French capital, meeting Granados, Turina, Albeniz, Ravel, Dukas and Falla. In 1900 he founded the Trio Iberia (with Bazunarte and Devalque), with guitar, lute and bandurria. This group performed transcriptions of Spanish music, in particular that of Albeniz, a repertoire which earned it fame throughout Europe; the Trio even played for King Edward VII of England. Barrios became director of the Granada Conservatory. When Falla moved to

Granada in 1919, the two musicians renewed their Parisian friendship, Barrios providing the composer of El amor brujo with a very important link with the world of Flamenco. He also advised him on the guitar writing in Homenaje a Debussy.


As so many Spanish musicians of his time, Barrios flourished with the cultural growth of the decades between 1910 and 1930, and almost gave up composition after the Civil War. Barrios's greatest moment came with the premiere of his opera El Avapies - with a libretto by Borras - in collaboration with del Campo, performed at the Teatro Real in Madrid on 18th March 1919, conducted by Arbos. The work was unfortunate - it had a mere two performances - perhaps in part owing to its imitation of Granados's Goyescas by means of a kind of stylized tonadilla (a popular musical interlude).


Barrios never overcame his nationalist, even regionalist, kind of language, and as with Christoforidis,

Granadine motifs abound. A great connoisseur of Flamenco forms, his music is full of characteristic dances: bulerias, peteneras, farrucas, and soleas. His works for piano are almost all based on Andalusian dances, characterized by imitation of the guitar.


The tango Angelita, published in Madrid by Union Musical Espanola in 1932, achieved popularity thanks to its smooth melancholy and salon style. Juanele is a garrotin, a gypsy dance much in favour at the beginning of the twentieth century. Barrios imbues its rhythmic insistence with a gracious character, utterly idiomatically written for the piano.


Danza de la cautiva (Dance of the Captive) (UME, 1920) is more intimate in tone, subtly eastern. The

Seguidilla gitana (Gypsy Seguidilla) Suite (UME, 1932) begins with Seguidillas del velatorio (Seguidillas of the Wake), dedicated to Carlos Bosch. With its Moderato movement and the indication 'bien ritmado', the changes in metre and vital pulse seem to contradict the funerary title. It finishes with a pianissimo, marked morendo e perdendosi. El Zacateque, dedicated to Juanito Temboury, is an Allegretto filled with trills, groups of triplets and writing for crossed hands. It finishes with a brusque fortissimo. The final part, En la Romeria del Rocio (At the Pilgrimage of Our Lady of the Dew), dedicated 'To my brotherly friend Antonio Flores', is a very rhythmic Allegretto, a zambra, an expression referring to the celebratory dance practised by the gypsies in Sacromonte, Granada. This is joyful, accented music, using staccato in which Barrios - on a smaller scale - recalls some of the more festive moments of Iberia by Albeniz. Expressive moments are not lacking, such as bar 50, marked 'con gusto'. It finishes with a section marked 'Mas vivo' (more lively). La Ronda is a highly rhythmic piece with martial allusions which take us back to the world of the salon, especially in the middle section.


Alcaiceria (UME, 1932) is a 'farruca gitana', a tranquil dance close to the tango, which portrays one of the liveliest neighbourhoods of Granada. En las cuevas del Darro (Seguidillas) (In the caves of the Darro - Seguidilla) again recreates a gypsy dance scene. Finally, Guajiras (Barcelona, Astor y Millares, 1912) was one of Barrios's first works. This Cuban dance is distinguished by its constant rhythmic changes.


The composer, conductor and pianist Manuel Infante studied piano in Barcelona with Enrique Morera. In 1909, he moved permanently to Paris, marrying the cellist Yvonne Casadesus. He had a prodigious career as a conductor, making known in France much new Spanish music.


Infante wrote music of a more conventional ‘Andalusism' than Barrios, pieces popular in inspiration and of an evident virtuosity, but the composer was to die completely cut off from Spanish musical life.


Gitanerias (Gypsy Scenes) (Paris, Mathot, c.1923) is a stylization of Flamenco rhythms and melodic turns. Gracia (el vita) (Grace – Andalusian dance) (Paris, Salabert, 1922), 'Variations on a popular theme and original dance for piano' is dedicated to Iturbi, who gave its premiere in the Salle Gaveau in Paris on 20th March 1922. The same pianist would perform it at the Madrid Philharmonic Society – with the Sevillana - on 27th November 1922. The theme is a genuine folk one, El vita jerezano (The Dance of Jerez), gracefully rhythmic, with two variations in the minor key. After the simple exposition of the melody there follow six variations. In the first, the theme does not disappear until the last phrase; for the second, Infante requested 'clarity and flexible technique, in order to emphasize the various shades of the delicate expression'; the third, in the major, is smooth in sonority, with the song as a background; the fourth is burlesque; the fifth is the most romantic and expressive; the sixth reiterates the theme in the bass over unceasing arpeggios.


The Danse andalouse (Andalusian Dance) takes to the limit the more ostentatious side of Infante's pianism.


Sevillana, subtitled Impresiones de fiesta en Sevilla (Impressions of the Fiesta in Seville), fantasia para piano (Paris, Mathot, c. 1922), is based on a free treatment of folk rhythms and motives. It begins with an Allegro deciso in D major, over a characteristic figure in the bass. It dryly sketches an Andalusian rhythm followed by the happy accents of the sevillanas. Then there is an expressive song, Molto meno mosso e cantabile, with a local flavour. It interlocks with a melancholic episode and finishes in the original tempo with a brief commentary from the sevillanas theme.


The Sevillana was very much linked to Iturbi, who used to include it in some of his most notable performances, such as that in Brussels in the Palais de Beaux Arts as part of the Spanish Festival on 31st July 1958, or in his re-encounter with the public of Madrid in the recitals at the Palacio de Congresos on 6th and 7th May 1972, fifty years after introducing the work to the Spanish capital, testimony to the Sevillana's remaining in the great Valencian pianist's repertoire.


The first book of the Pochades andalouses (Andalusian Sketches) (Paris, Gregh, 1925) contains

Canto flamenco (Flamenco Song), with a typical folk rhythm, the brilliant Danse gitane (Gypsy Dance), the charming Aniers sur la route de Seville (Muleteers on the road to Seville) and the spectacular Tientos (sur un rythme populaire) (Tientos on a popular rhythm). Guadalquivir (Paris, Gregh, 1924) is a 'picturesque study' in which the constant arpeggios of the right hand which accompany the melody evoke the flow of the river (the Guadalquivir), except for the more serious central section.


Enrique Martinez Miura

Translation: Ivan Moody


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