About this Recording
8.573547 - Wind Band Music - OLTRA, M. / GARRETA, J. / MORALEDA, J.L. (Catalan Wind Music, Vol. 1) (Barcelona Symphonic Band, Brotons)
English  Catalan 

Catalan Wind Music
Manuel Oltra (1922–2015) • Juli Garreta (1875–1925) • Joan Lluís Moraleda (b. 1943)


As an institution, the Barcelona Municipal Band is indispensable for an understanding of the history of music in Catalonia over the past 100 years. Its rôle has evolved and is still evolving far beyond concert programming and participating in official city events: it has promoted the dissemination of music in a country with very few symphony orchestras, where the popularisation of the international repertoire—be it classical or contemporary—has often been an uphill task. The Band has always shunned elitism and tried to be accessible to the public at large by including in its programmes the greatest classical, Romantic and contemporary pieces in history, composed or arranged for concert band. In its quest for both the promotion of music and performing excellence, under the baton of great conductors and with an ever-increasing repertoire, the Band fulfils a public-service rôle. At the same time, it is also committed to local composers, many of whose symphonic works have thus been premièred by a first-rate instrumental ensemble.

The primary architect of the band’s success was Joan Lamote de Grignon, who, upon taking it over in 1914, reorganised it from the top down, increasing the staff to 85 and giving it a professional structure as well as an artistic personality that soon turned it into an internationally-renowned musical institution. One of the peculiarities of the Band—organised into wind instrument families—was the addition of a section of Catalan shawms, consisting of a tible and two tenores, in 1921. The inclusion of these instruments can be read from two complementary points of view. On the one hand, they acted as solo instruments in Catalan compositions, with their unique timbre reminiscent of the sound of the cobla and the concepts associated with it − dance, tradition, celebration, Catalan identity. On the other hand, their bright piercing sound contrasts with the opaque sound of single-reed instruments (clarinets and saxophones) when brightness of timbre is required. It is worth mentioning that Lamote de Grignon, who was an excellent orchestrator, used the tenora and tible in his adaptations of symphonic music (such as the finale of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or Wagner’s Tannhäuser overture) not in order to make international repertoire “sound more Catalan”, as far as timbre is concerned, but in order to find the orchestral brightness he was unable to achieve with the usual band instruments.

The three compositions on this recording are a representative sample of 20th-century Catalan music. There is a good reason for the presence of traditional Catalan instruments—the three shawms incorporated by Lamote de Grignon as well as the flabiol flute, added to the Band in the late 1970s by Narcís Paulís and Jordi León—in all of these works: Manuel Oltra’s symphonic poem and Joan Lluís Moraleda’s symphonic suite were originally composed for cobla. It is only natural that they wanted to preserve their peculiar timbre in their adaptation for band. As for Juli Garreta’s suite, although it was composed for symphony orchestra, its original orchestration already featured a flabiol and two tenores.

Manuel Oltra (Valencia, 1922–Barcelona, 2015) moved as a child to Barcelona, where he developed his career as pianist, composer and pedagogue. His output includes hundreds of compositions: original works, arrangements and instrumentations, many of which are deeply rooted in traditional Catalan music: folk ballets, sardanas, chamber pieces, choral music… L’Alimara is a symphonic poem with medieval echoes, originally scored for two cobles and percussion. It was premièred at the Plaça del Rei in Barcelona, in a performance conducted by the composer himself in July 1983. A few years later, Oltra wrote a version for orchestra and, in 2014, his former pupil Jordi León—an oboist and a flabiol player with the Barcelona Municipal Band—wrote this arrangement.

Juli Garreta (Sant Feliu de Guíxols, 1875–1925) is one of the outstanding Catalan composers. Although he began his career composing exclusively sardanas for cobla – with a uniquely original symphonic dimension—after he met Pau Casals he became an assiduous composer of orchestral works that would eventually be accepted as undisputed milestones in Catalan symphonic music, including symphonic poems such as the Pastoral and Les Illes Medes, or the Suite empordanesa, premièred in 1921 by the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona under the baton of Joan Lamote de Grignon. A few years later, in 1933, Ricard Lamote de Grignon wrote an instrumentation for the Barcelona Municipal Band that kept the parts originally scored for the tenora while adding a tible that, as has already been said, had been added to the Band over a decade before. The part originally scored for flabiol, which in Ricard Lamote’s instrumentation had been given to the piccolo because there was no flabiol in the Band at the time, has been recovered over the past decades and has been used on this recording. The work describes the composer’s impressions during a boat trip from Sant Feliu de Guíxols to the Cap de Creus with some friends, one of whom was nicknamed Llicorella (‘Slate’). Shortly after the trip, Garreta composed his sardana Llicorella (1911) and, later on, he used the central themes of this sardana as a basis for this great symphonic work.

Joan Lluís Moraleda (Santa Maria de Palautordera, 1943–) is an oboist, conductor and composer. In all three capacities, he has enjoyed a close relationship with the Barcelona Municipal Band, of which he was also a member. Tirant lo Blanc is a milestone in symphonic music for cobla. It was awarded the Premi de Música per a Cobla Ceret-Banyoles, granted by Foment de Banyoles, in 1986 and has enjoyed an ever-increasing success since its première. Its epic nature transports audiences to the world of fights, feasts and amorous play of the eponymous knight created by Joanot Martorell. The transcription for band was made by the composer himself.

David Puertas Esteve

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