About this Recording
8.573846 - Piano Recital: Panfilov, Alexander - DEBUSSY, C. / SECO DE ARPE, M. / MUSSORGSKY, M.P. / ALBĖNIZ, I.
English  Spanish 

Debussy • Seco de Arpe • Albéniz • Mussorgsky


This album leads us from the subtle and delicate soundworld of Debussy’s Estampes to the grandeur and expressive power of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition—a worthy finale to a recital which is notable, in equal measure, for its focus, eloquence and virtuosity.

Estampes (‘Prints’, 1903) by Claude Debussy (1862–1918) is cast in three movements, like several other works in Debussy’s catalogue, Images among them. Brimming with evocative writing, it was composed for the Spanish pianist Ricardo Viñes, who inspired so many works from the composers of the day. The first movement, Pagodes (‘Pagodas’), draws on eastern influences, including gamelan percussion. La Soirée dans Grenade (‘Evening in Granada’) is one of a series of pieces conjured in Debussyʼs imagination by the exotic world of the Alhambra, a world then washed away by the rainstorm portrayed in Jardins sous la pluie (‘Gardens in the Rain’).

Manuel Seco de Arpe (b. 1958), commissioned to compose the mandatory work for the 2016 Competition, has described his new work as follows: ‘Anamorfosis, Op. 152 is dedicated to the Provincial Council of Jaén. Based on the tune given to me, which is that of the folk song Morenita ven aquí (‘Come here, my dark-haired girl’), it has a carefree air, and makes use of the opening of the theme in particular, both rhythmically and melodically. The theme is present throughout the work and listeners will be able to distinguish it, even though it appears in very different guises. At the very beginning we hear its characteristic rhythm (two semiquavers and a quaver) in alternation with a D major chord—this is the key of the original folk tune and acts as a necessary focal point from start to finish, providing an element of internal and formal cohesion. The different ways in which the opening of the theme is treated give rise to various “sub-themes” that enrich the music and help it diversify and expand, introducing tempo and agogic changes which will require great technical mastery from the performer.’

El Puerto by Isaac Albéniz (1860–1909) is a vivid portrait of the bustling and sunlit coastal town of El Puerto de Santa María in the southern Spanish province of Cádiz. This is the shortest piece in the composer’s Iberia collection, and as well as revealing the influence of Debussy, it has an improvisatory feel and an unflagging energy that makes considerable demands on the pianist.

It was a visit to an exhibition of paintings by Viktor Hartmann that inspired Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881) to write his piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition (1874). The work, orchestrated in the early 20th century by Ravel (now perhaps the better-known version), is a homage to Hartmann, the exhibition having been mounted as a memorial to the artist after his untimely death, and captures the visual details of his work to perfection. The Promenade movements depict the composer as he walks from one painting to the next, while the pictures themselves are brought fully to life, acquiring their own unique musical qualities, characteristic of the inspired and sometimes undervalued piano writing of the composer of Boris Godunov.

Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro
English translation by Susannah Howe

The Jaén Prize International Piano Competition

The Jaén Prize was established in 1953. It has its roots in the Club Alpino, a short-lived cultural and sporting society, now defunct. The prize was set up with relatively modest aims by the pianist Joaquín Reyes Cabrera and the architect Pablo Castillo García-Negrete. The club did not give its name to the competition because the two prizes given in 1953 and 1954 were donated by Pablo Castillo García-Negrete, a music-lover from Jaén. It was during these years that the promoters of the prize looked for stronger sponsorship, and the result was the active and collaborative presence of the Instituto de Estudios Giennenses. The architect Pablo Castillo, a member of the Studies Corporation, was named adviser and the name was replaced with Premio Jaén de Piano (‘Jaén Piano Prize’). Initially it was a national competition, but in the 1970s it assumed international status, a position it still holds, as Gustav A. Alink, the author of a number of books on international piano competitions, confirms.

The first award of this new prize was given to Jacinto Matute in 1956 and consisted of 5,000 pesetas (30 euros). Gradually this amount has been increased, reaching the sum of 20,000 euros in 2016 for the first prize, 12,000 for the second, 8,000 for the third, 6,000 for the Rosa Sabater award, and another 6,000 euros for the Contemporary Music award. Since 1993 the competition has included a mandatory new work written by a Spanish composer, a composition that is subsidised by the Centro de Difusión de la Música Contemporánea of the Ministry of Culture and the Provincial Assembly, which, since 1997, has been published and distributed by the Provincial Assembly.

The composers who have contributed new works, from 1993 to 2016, are Manuel Castillo, Carlos Cruz de Castro, Antón García Abril, Valentín Ruiz, Ángel Oliver, Zulema de la Cruz, Tomás Marco, José García Román, Xavier Montsalvatge, José Luis Turina, Luis de Pablo, Eneko Vadillo, Leonardo Balada, Josep Soler, Joan Guinjoan, Claudio Prieto, Daniel Mateos, Juan A. Medina, José Zárate, Juan de Dios García Aguilera, Juan A. Medina, Alejandro Román, Juan Cruz-Guevara and Manuel Seco de Arpe.

Over the years, various leading figures have served on the competition jury, including Javier Alfonso, who often served as president of the jury, until his death. Since then, various leading musicians have taken this position, including Guillermo Gonzalez and, until 2015, Ana Guijarro. In 2016 Albert Attenelle was appointed president of the jury. Among those who have served on the competition jury are Marcelle Heuclín, Nicole Henriot, Salomon Mikowsky, Leslie Wright, Teresa Rutkowska, Valentina Kamenikova, Antonio de Raco, Hans Graf, Jean-Paul Sevilla, Ronald Farren-Price, María Fernanda Wansneider, Yuko Fujimura, Carmen Graf-Adnet, Marta Marchena, Karl- Hermann Mrongovius, Elza Kolodin, Alfred Mouledous, Ralf Nattkemper, Dag Achatz, Yukie Nagai, Rosalyn Tureck, Jean-François Heisser, and Paul Badura-Skoda, among others. Among the Spanish jury-members are Rosa Sabater, Joaquín Soriano, Ramón Coll, Josep Colom, Mario Monreal, Rafael Quero, Joaquín Reyes, Perfecto García Chornet, Pilar Bilbao, Esteban Sánchez, Antonio Baciero, Fernando Puchol, Julián López Gimeno, Begoña Uriarte, and Pedro Jiménez Cavallé, who was secretary of the jury for many years.

Outstanding pianists to have won prizes in the competition, including the Spanish pianists Begoña Uriarte, Joaquín Parra, Mario Monreal, Rafael Orozco, Joaquín Soriano, José María Pinzolas, Josep Colom and Javier Perianes. Other winners include Boaz Sharon, Ewa Osinska, Elza Kolodin, Jean-François Heisser, Boris Bloch, Michiko Tsuda, John Salmon, Hüseyin Sermet, Benedetto Lupo, Martin Zehn, Brenno Ambrosini, Olivier Cazal, Sergei Tarasov, Anna Vinnitskaya, Ilya Rashkovskiy, Yun Yi Qin, Antonii Baryshevskyi, Mladen Colic and many others.

Today the competition attracts significant international participation. It includes three eliminating rounds and a final test with orchestra which, in 2016, was the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada. The Jaén Prize competition is held at the Jaén Conservatory and the Infanta Leonor Theatre.

English version: Ángel García Rus & Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro

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