|About this Recording
The folklore in Spanish music
Manuel de Falla who was born in the Andalusian Cadiz in 1876 (†1946), passes for the central personage among the Spanish composers of the 20th century. In contrasts to his French and Russian contemporaries Debussy, Ravel and Glinka, who employees Spanish themes in compositions almost as a fashion, Falla tried to attain a real symbiosis between Spanish folklore and late romanticism as well as impressionism. Again and again he returned to the gipsy song, the cante flamenco, which is characterized by guitar, singing, castanets an rhythmic hand-clapping and foot-stamping. The two varieties of Flamenco, cante jondo and cante chico—derived from the Andalusian hondo (deep, profound) and the Spanish chico (small, light)—represent a passionate lament, the deepest expression of the Andalusian soul. The poet Federico Garcia Lorca (1898–1936), a companion of Manuel de Falla, designated the cante flamenco as „one of the most powerful creations of the Spanish people“.
With his lyrical drama „La vida breve“ (The short life) of 1905, of which this recording contains the Spanish Dance no. 1 (Danza española n°1), the composer had his first major success (premiere in Nice, 1913). The story tells of the love of a gipsy woman from Granada’s high situated Albaicin-quarter for a philanderer from the centre of town; a love that ends with the death of the betrayed woman.
In 1919, Manuel de Falla’s ballet music „El sombrero de tres picos“ (The Three-Cornered Hat) became a great success in London. On the suggestion of Sergej Diaghilev, this performance was based on the pantomimic farce, „El corregidor y la molinera“ (The Country Judge and the Miller Wife); with the choreography of Léonide Massines and the set by Pablo Picasso, it was one of the most famous productions of hat Ballets Russes. The three-cornered hat in the title is that of the groteques country judge—whose character is described by the Danza del corregidor—who wants to seduce the honest wife of a miller. Here, too, the adaptation of Andalusian folklore, as in the centre of the composition.
Like Falla, the Spanish composer JOAQUÍN RODRIGO (*1901), who went blind at the age of three years, spent some of his life in Paris. After his studying in Valencia he became a student of Paul Dukas in 1927. Two factors put off Rodrigo’s return to Spain until 1939: a course of study in music history and the Spanish Civil War. One year before his return, he produced the „Cuatro piezas para piano“ from which comes the Fandango del ventorrillo, the „Dance in the pub“. By adopting the Fandango form, Rodrigo, too, works in the tradition of the cante flamenco. The version for guitar duo was set in 1965 by Pepe Romero.
Rodrigo’s „Concierto de Aranjuez“ for guitar and orchestra (1939) is named after a little town in the south of Madrid known as being the former summer residence of the Spanish royal family. With this work he was celebrated as the most significant composer of the day.
„Tonadillas“ (little songs) were known in 18th century Spain as short, usually comic operas which were played as intermezzos between the acts of theater performances. With his highly virtuoso Tonadilla para dos guitarras from 1959, Rodrigo alludes to the tradition of this genre, but adapts it to the three-movement form of the classical age.
The folkloristic roots in the works of Manuel de Falla and Joaquín Rodrigo can be found in modern form in the music of RAFAEL ANDIA. Andia, the son of Spanish parents living in France, learned to play Flamenco in Spain. In Paris he studied guitar and has himself been conducting a class in baroque guitar since 1976. His Canciones flamencas antiguas, published in 1996, allude to the song collection „Cantares populares“ by the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. With this adaptation for two concert guitars Andia has brought Flamenco into the concert halls. The lyrics of cante jondo and ist main themes: love, passion and, again and again, death.
Adaptations of orchestral pieces for guitar duo
The range of original literature for guitar duo is limited; here Rafael Andia’s Canciones flamenco antiguas and Joaquín Rodrigo’s Tonadilla are pieces that were originally written for this instrumentation. Therefore it was necessary that for such a Spanish program we find pieces with other instrumentations that could be adapted for guitar duo. Thus we came across Manuel de Falla’s orchestral music which can be excellently set on guitar, the idiomatic instrument of Spanish music—especially since the orchestration of pieces we were particularly careful to preserve the significant and characteristic voices and elements of the pieces and to make adjustments für specific guitar techniques and timbres. The basis of our work is always the orchestral score and not the piano score because of the frequent omission of important voices in the latter. The duo music arises from the accompanying voices on both guitars.
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