|About this Recording
8.572139 - PALOMO, L.: My Secluded Garden / Madrigal and 5 Sephardic Songs / Concierto de Cienfuegos (Bayo, P. Romero, Romero Guitar Quartet, Fruhbeck de Burgos)
My Secluded Garden
During the years from 1977 to 1981 I spent five years with my family in San Diego, California. Among other works, I composed there, commissioned by Montserrat Caballé, my song cycle Del atardecer al alba or Recuerdos de juventud, which she sang later at the most prestigious concert halls around the world, including a world première at Carnegie Hall, New York.
I never believed that places could influence the inspiration of a composer. The fountain of creativity is within the artist, and it flows anywhere he goes. I could have composed these songs, therefore, at any other place in the world. Nevertheless I asked myself many times which turn of destiny wanted me to spend those years in California. The answer was always clear to me: It was written in the history of my life that I had to meet Celedonio Romero and his family, the legendary Guitar Quartet formed by Celedonio, Celin, Pepe and Angel Romero. To them I owe my knowledge and passion for the guitar, for them I composed my Nocturnos de Andalucía for guitar and orchestra and in memory of Celedonio I wrote my concerto for four guitars and orchestra Concierto de Cienfuegos, recalling the city in Cuba where he was born.
Besides being the grand maestro of the guitar that he was, Celedonio enjoyed immensely his talent as a poet. He wrote poems with great ease, simple in structure, with almost a folk style, profound message and deep philosophy. Sometimes he would describe just what came in front of his eyes or simply thoughts of everyday life.
During our unforgettable evenings together, Celedonio enjoyed reciting his verses for us. Before his death, he printed a small book with a collection of these poems. In the copy he dedicated to me he says: “…Hoping you will compose your wonderful music on some of these poems, so they will have more value…”
This was the origin of My Secluded Garden which I dedicated to the memory of Angelita, Celedonio’s wife, who was without any doubt the fountain of inspiration of most of his poems.
I cannot find the words to describe the emotion and the deep affection I felt while composing these songs, in which I tried to keep intact the genuine and, at the same time, simple style of the poems which inspired them.
Madrigal and Five Sephardic Songs
To the remarkable American stage director, drama coach and brilliant performer, Janet Bookspan
As I composed Madrigal and Five Sephardic Songs I principally intended to preserve their magic, simplicity and traditional character. Madrigals originally are small choral works from the sixteenth and seventeenth century. They are about love and pastoral idyll. Sephardic Songs are melodies from the Jewish music left in Spain as heritage, and especially captivate by their great simplicity. The subject is always love, the pain of unrequited love, the story of a young love or a lullaby. All of these songs radiate purity and tenderness. Madrigal and Five Sephardic Songs was performed for the first time by Ofelia Sala, soprano, and Maria Smirnova, harp, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Germany, on 4 October 2004.
Concierto de Cienfuegos for four guitars and orchestra
I. Night, Lake of a Thousand Fantasies
II. Song to the Night—Lullaby
III. The Two Shores
The score, written mainly in the course of the year 2000, was completed in Berlin in April 2001. The première of this work was given at the Real Maestranza Theatre of Seville on 14 and 15 June 2001 by The Romero Guitar Quartet, formed by Pepe, Celino, Lito and Celin Romero, and the Royal Symphony Orchestra of Seville conducted by Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. The Córdoba composer dedicated this concerto “to the memory of my cherished friend, the eminent guitar maestro Celedonio Romero”, and this spirit of heart-felt posthumous homage lies behind the title and the musical substance of the Concierto de Cienfuegos. Just as Palomo himself said, “Together with Andrés Segovia, Celedonio Romero was one of the great ambassadors of the Spanish guitar outside Spain. His family was from Málaga but as fate would have it, Celedonio was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba. This circumstance doubly enriched his imagination, creativity and soul as an artist. I composed the Concierto de Cienfuegos to honour the memory of my dear friend Celedonio Romero with the name of the city where he was born and (…) at the same time my special aim in composing it was to join, in one work, the cultures of the two worlds that merged in Celedonio: Andalusia and Cuba”.
Although fanciful and unrestrained, Lorenzo Palomo’s new guitar concerto, written for four guitars, on this occasion in honour of the Romeros, recalls the classic format of the concerto in three movements. The first, entitled Noche, lago de mil fantasías (Allegretto) (Night, Lake of a Thousand Fancies), follows the “poematic” line of the composer, who conceives music as a manner of “imagery of sound”. It seeks to evoke a dance of “little elves on narrow lanes in the enchanted Andalusian night”. Starting with the solo guitars, the harp and celesta make a delicate “natural” transition to the orchestra within an enveloping air of bulerías. The solo quartet offers a second thematic block in a rhythmic sonorous ambience that makes no attempt to establish marked contrasts with the previous part. The return to the first block with the guitars, to complete the cyclic form, is a prelude to a beautiful rendition of the main theme by the orchestra’s strings. A certain sense of repetition helps to create the desired magical atmosphere and the movement then dissolves in a delicate evanescent coda.
In the second movement, called Canto a la noche—Arrullos (Calmo) (Song to the Night—Lullaby), the composer says that “the sea and the stars kiss, caress, coo… and drowse off with cadences of the slow tropical rhythm of a habanera”. Harmonics of the muted violins and harp create the bed of sound and the atmosphere of a nocturne, in which the beautiful ample melody of the flute soon stands out, “a lyrical enthralling theme”, that is quickly taken up by the violins. Until this moment the guitars have been only a “touch of colour”, but now they remain alone to rework freely the material and lead the music to a section Poco più mosso: the atmosphere has become illuminated and the solo quartet and the orchestra alternate in their dialogue: Lorenzo Palomo makes no attempt (which would, moreover, surely be in vain) to confront the guitar’s little (or “distant”, as Andrés Segovia said) voice, even if there are indeed four guitars in this case, with the orchestra’s big (and “present”) voice. Next comes a Calmo section in the form of a cadence of the solo quartet, giving way to a little song in the style of Albéniz, which is joined by the orchestra, playing at its ease until finally “wandering off”.
If the bulerías of the first movement denoted Andalusia and in the second movement the lulled metrics of the habanera—a folk melody of the so-called “round-trip type”—formed a link between the Old World and the New, the Concierto de Cienfuegos closes with an impetuous deployment of rhythms of a Caribbean air: Latin America can be felt throbbing within it. This Allegretto con anima is entitled Las dos orillas (The Two Shores) and the composer describes it in this way: “Cienfuegos never sleeps. The night adorns itself with the sensual beauty and exuberance of the rhythms springing forth from the Caribbean. The frenetic sound of bongos and congas can be heard until the break of day”. The five-beat measure conveys the orchestra’s vivid sparkling show of rhythms, sound and colours, bringing the concerto to an end.
José Luis García del Busto
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