About this Recording
8.570420 - PALOMO: Cantos del alma / Sinfonia a Granada
English  Spanish 

Lorenzo Palomo
Cantos del alma (Songs of the Soul)


In September 2000, Jesús López Cobos conducted Andalusian Nocturnes, my ‘suite concertante’ for guitar and orchestra (featuring Pepe Romero as soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra). During the days of rehearsal before the concert, the Maestro and I agreed that I should compose a work and he would conduct its world première. I asked him to suggest the kind of work which would meet with his approval and he came up with something which seemed immediately attractive – a composition for soprano, clarinet and orchestra. The combination of soprano and clarinet revived in me the fascination that I had felt when I first heard Schubert’s song The Shepherd on the Rock. The nature of the enterprise required something lyrical and evocative, a composition in which voice, clarinet and orchestra would establish a poetic dialogue, both intimate and idyllic. For that the only appropriate selection were four poems from Juan Ramón Jiménez, whose words express such tenderness and beauty. Thus my Cantos del alma (Songs of the Soul) were born.

¡Pájaro del agua! (Water Bird!) describes the total fascination felt by a young soul listening to the beautiful sounds of this water bird. In Tientos de la alborada (Dawn Tientos), a dance song of Sephardic character (given the title Naked by the poet), two souls dance the tiento and complain about the eternal delay – “I will say to you, ‘Today!’… and you will slip away and say to me, ‘Tomorrow!’”

Serenata antillana (Antillian Serenade) offers a little tribute to Zenobia Camprubí, the wife of the poet, Juan Ramón Jiménez. Zenobia’s family came from Puerto Rico, ‘the island of charm’ as the poet used to call it, and indeed the charm of this island always brought the couple closer together. The soul of Zenobia suggest rhythms and cadences… the sensuality of the Antillian nights.

Viaje a la luz (Journey to the Light) is the transition to the celestial sphere where young souls enjoy themselves and play at the entrance to ‘the white palaces’. Los palacios blancos (The White Palaces) is based on the poem Silence! where the passionate words of the poet’s soul reach limits that few poets were ever able to achieve. The thin orchestral texture accompanies the lyrical plaintive song of voice and solo clarinet, mourning the death of an angel.

Sinfonía a Granada (Granada Symphony)

Granada has fascinated and inspired innumerable artists, poets, painters, and musicians from every race and nationality. For Granada is the eternal Muse, loved by all. Because of this the Regional Government of Granada commissioned me to compose a musical work dedicated to the province, an immense honour which also provided an opportunity to fulfil one of my lifelong dreams.

The Regional Government’s offer carried a very clear, particular message. They were not interested in the composition of a work which was merely a new tribute dedicated to the beautiful city and its province. The Government’s requirements in this undertaking were made explicit in a written statement: A musical composition which helps to establish bonds of union and brotherhood between the people of the different territories of our province and draws together in its music the variety and rich geographical and cultural diversity which characterizes us.

These instructions contain a message of a significance extending beyond simply praising yet again the beauty of the ‘City of the Carmenes(‘villas with gardens’) and its province. Luis García Montero, the great poet of Granada, has written some marvellous poems that were a true source of inspiration for me when composing the Granada Symphony.

One may ask where the title Sinfonía a Granada (Granada Symphony) originated. It is very simple. The work commissioned by the Regional Government of Granada could not be given any other title. In various ways Granada in itself offers us a symphony because Granada is indeed a symphony of dreams, fountains, colours…

In this composition I have included soprano voice and guitar (especially considering the profound roots of this instrument in the life and culture of Andalusia). In terms of musical language, I have been faithful to the most authentic Andalusian music, introducing a number of Arabic and Hebraic melismas as well as cadences characteristic of flamenco.

Sinfonía a Granada comprises five movements or scenes:

I. ‘… landscapes with dream factories’
At the root of the guitaristic rhythm of the brisk bulerías of the orchestra, a voice relates how the diverse kaleidoscope of the city is encapsulated in its history, its dawns, its late violets, its song, its colours, its light, its landscapes with fabrics of dreams that bring us in a state of fascination to experience ‘love for Granada’.

II. ‘Going up to the Alhambra’
As if in a dream ‘let us go up to the Palace’. The tinkling guitar invites us ‘to listen to the water’s voice’. The harp sounds, the song sounds, the scene lights up.

Let us go up to kindle
The light of the dawn.

III. ‘The Land and the Sea’ The vivid rhythm of the bulerías resounds through the countryside and on the sea of Granada. Country dwellers and mariners tell of their troubles and laments. In a distant tavern an anguished voice and a guitar can be heard:

Time rolls on
between what is lost
yet remains.

IV. Dance of Sacromonte
A couple of years ago I was spending the night in the company of the great flamenco singer, Enrique Morente, and other friends in the narrow streets of Sacromonte. A gypsy girl came out of a cave some distance from us. She was very graceful with long hair, and carrying a guitar. The tapping of her shoes resonated loudly in my ears. Her silhouette, lit up by the moon, stood out marvellously in the night. That image fascinated me. Although Sinfonía a Granada was dedicated to the Regional Government of Granada, the scene inspired me to write Dance of Sacromonte, which I dedicate also to those dancers and singers, male and female, whose names will never be known but who contributed so much to the world of flamenco and the musical life of Granada.

V. A Snow Painted Sky
This calm and serene song takes us to the quietness of the Sierra Nevada. The snows bring us near the sky of Granada.


Lorenzo Palomo
English translation by Graham Wade

Spanish sung texts and English translations can be found at www.naxos.com/libretti/570420.htm

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