About this Recording
8.553401 - Guitar Recital: Jeffrey McFadden




Guitar Music


During the second half of the nineteenth century, composers throughout Europe sought to divest themselves of the universal musical language of Viennese classicism. Composers began to incorporate elements of folk-music and national culture in their compositions. In Spain, Enrique Granados (1867-1916) was a principal exponent of the new nationalism in music as is apparent in his Danzas Espaliolas and Goyescas. In the Valses Poeticos the Spanish flavour is clearly in evidence, though we also hear echoes of the Viennese waltz of Johann Strauss, who had toured Europe with his orchestra and whose music was probably known to even such an insular composer as Granados. Indeed the piece had been foreshadowed earlier in the century by Weber in his Aufforderung zum Tanz which, like the Valses Poeticos has a formal introduction leading to a smoothly connected sequence of waltzes and ends with a coda referring to earlier themes.


Many of Granados' pieces have survived into this century through the labour of guitarists transcribing works from the piano, as is this case in this recording. As much as Granados' work has been ignored by modern pianists, with the notable exception of Alicia de LarroCha, the compositions of the nineteenth century guitarist Napoleon Coste (1805-1883) have been curiously ignored by repertoire-hungry guitarists. The Rondeau de Concert recorded here is just one example of the various extended concert works written by Coste for guitar. A single movement work combining a virtuosic introduction and rondo, the piece is similar to the concert overtures, in turn derived from the opera overture, which enjoyed great favour during Coste's productive life. Indeed the Rondeau de Concert, with its light-hearted melodies and buoyant turns of phrase, betrays the influence of the opera comique in Coste's work.


The music of the Paraguayan guitarist-composer Augustin Barrios (1885-1944) has come to the attention of guitarists through the efforts of such artists as John Williams. The music of Barrios is typical of the acculturation that was present in the works of Latin American composers at the turn of the century. His compositional style shows both the influences of European Romanticism and of the nationalistic trends that were prevalent in Latin-American music in the latter half of the nineteenth century. His use of forms ranges from European staples such as the mazurka and waltz to South-American folk-music such as the Danzas Paraguayas.


Though not as conspicuously programmatic as some of his other works, La Catedral is said to be based on a personal experience of the composer. Though perhaps apocryphal, the story provides a colourful backdrop to the piece. Finding solace near a quiet church in the bustling city of Montevideo, Barrios was inspired to compose the Andante religioso, with its chorale-like textures and plaintive harmonies. The ensuing Allegro solemne is said to represent his return to the noisy soundscape of the city. The prelude, initially composed as a single movement saudade in tribute to his wife, was later added to the piece.


The German composer Hans Werner Henze (b. 1926) has included the guitar in many of his compositions and has more recently composed extended solo works for the guitar. The brilliant Drei Tentos are taken from his Kammermusik 1958, which is scored for tenor, guitar and eight other instruments. , The piece is a setting of a hymn from the eighteenth century German poet Holderlin, a contemporary of Schiller. Holderlin's verses are divided into sections and are accompanied by various combinations of instruments from the ensemble. The guitar solos serve as instrumental interludes spaced between the verses.


The Drei Tentos contain many elements of Henze's diverse compositional traits. The first is somewhat pointillistic in the manner of Webern. The second, with its driving rhythms, exhibits the influence of Stravinsky and the third demonstrates the composer's penchant for using tonal Neapolitan melodies.


Like Henze, Joaquin Rodrigo (b. 1902) does not play the guitar but has contributed substantially to the repertoire in the twentieth century .Most of this music features Rodrigo's characteristic use of Spanish folk elements, such as the borrowing of dance rhythms and forms. In folk-music, the Fandango is both a fast courtship dance in triple time or less commonly a vocal lament. In the first two movements of Tres Piezas Espaiiolas, Rodrigo has paired the two types by placing a slow Passacaglia with a plaintive melody after a spirited and rhythmic Fandango. The Zapateado possesses syncopations and cross-rhythms which suggest its relation to the foot-stamping patterns of flamenco dancing.


The power of music to invoke human emotions has been understood since early civilization and in fact became the predominant force in musical thought in the seventeenth century. Music theorists of the High Baroque went so far as to codify the compositional process, sometimes straining to assign musical gestures and devices to specific emotions in the Doctrine of Affections. With the five movements of Collectici Intim, the Valencian, Vicente Asencio (1908-1979) has explored this tradition with great subtlety and finesse. In La Serenor (Serenity) the melody lazily unfolds over a subdued pulsing in the bass. La Joia (Joy) is an energetic dance with percussive rhythmic figuration. La Calma (Calm) by contrast is expansive and features an undercurrent of quiet, chime-like harmonics. In La Gaubance (Delight), the melody undergoes free and continuous development interspersed with rapid repeated notes and arpeggiated gestures, and from the opening, La Frisanca (Haste) hurls towards its conclusion driven by a precipitous and insistent arpeggio pattern.


@ 1996 Michael Bracken / Jeffrey McFadden


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