CDE84672 Latin Serenade

Latin Serenade - John Mills - Guitar, Andrew Fuller - Cello

Latin Serenade - John Mills - Guitar, Andrew Fuller - Cello

Product Description

Latin Serenade

Manuel de Falla (1876–1946)  - Canciones populares españolas
El paño moruno, Asturiana, Jota, Nana,
Canción, Polo

Maurice Ravel (1875 –1937)
Pièce en Forme d’un Habanera

Enrique Granados (1867–1916)
Spanish Dance No.5, Andaluza
Intermezzo from Goyescas

Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959)  - Bachianas Brasileiras No.5
Song of the Black Swan

Radamés Gnatalli (1906–1988)   
Sonata for Cello and Guitar  

Jaime Ovalle (1894-1955)
Azulão (Bluebird)

Pablo de Sarasate  (1844-1908)
Spanish Dances Op.23 Zapateado

Pablo Casals (1976–1973)
Song of the Birds

Gaspar Cassado
Intermezzo & Danza-Finale

Alberto Ginastera (1916–1983)  
Triste Op.10, No.2

Astor Piazzolla (1921–1992)
Histoire du Tango, Bordel 1900

Xavier Montsalvatge  (1912-2002)
Cançion de cuna, Ninghe Ninghe


Manuel de Falla (1876–1946)
Canciones populares españolas

Manuel de Falla is arguably the most important figure in Spanish musical history. He was a contemporary of Albéniz, Tarrega and Granados, and continued composing through the first half of the 20th century, his career spanning both the Romantic and Modern eras.

Most of his fellow Spanish composers were Catalan but he was Andalusian living in Granada, where his former home is now the Falla museum.

He  spent seven years in Paris from 1907 where he met Debussy, Dukas, Stravinsky and especially Maurice Ravel with whom he developed a long and close friendship. There has since been much speculation on the nature of their relationship but their letters reveal nothing but warmth and affection for each other.

Like Pablo Casals, he became an exile during Franco’s rule, living in Argentina until he died. He refused to return to Spain even when he was made a Knight of the Order of King Alfonso X of Castile and offered a large pension by the government.

Written in 1914 in Paris, all the Canciones populares españolas derive from different regions of Spain; the texts deal with love and the courting process, whether playfully, seriously or tragically:

El paño moruno tells of the importance of a girl’s honour to her value on the marriage market, Asturiana of a lover weeping under a pine tree,  Jota of a lovers’ tryst and the result - Nana, a lullaby.

Canción depicts a lover’s treacherous eyes, and Polo a wild desire for revenge on an unfaithful lover.

Maurice Ravel (1875 –1937)
Pièce en Forme d’un Habanera

Unlike many of his French contemporaries who also embraced the Spanish style in their music, Ravel was actually born in the Basque region and his beloved yet difficult mother was purportedly from Madrid.     His earliest memories were of her singing Spanish folk songs to him, so it is not surprising that Spanish music was to be a deeply rooted influence on his identity and music. Falla wrote that he was especially impressed by the authentic Spanish flavour of works like Rhapsodie Espagnole and L'Heure Espagnole.

Pièce en forme d’un Habanera was composed in 1907, the same year as those two works. Originally a vocalise étude of extreme difficulty for bass voice and piano, he later transcribed the work for cello and piano.

Enrique Granados (1867–1916)
Spanish Dance No.5: Andaluza

Intermezzo from Goyescas

Alongside Falla and Albéniz, Granados was a leading figure in the first generation of Spanish Nationalist composers.
Granados was a brilliant young pianist and in 1887 went to Paris to study piano with de Bériot. In Barcelona he studied composition with Felip Pedrell, who devoted his life to developing a school of Spanish music and who also taught Albéniz.

Granados’s first great success came in 1903, winning a composition competition at the Royal Madrid conservatory; the win gave him a prize of 500 Pesetas and the resulting acclaim launched his international career.

Most of Granados’s output was piano music, the most well-known works being Goyescas and the Spanish dances from which Andaluza comes. This piece was a favourite of the legendary Andrés Segovia with whom John Mills studied.

Goyescas first appeared as a suite of piano pieces inspired by the paintings of Goya and was later used as the basis of an Opera, the Intermezzo being composed specially to cover a scene change.

The première of the opera was at the Met in New York in 1916.

It is a sad irony that their delayed return to Spain, caused by an invitation to give a recital for President Woodrow Wilson, led to the tragic death of Granados and his wife in the torpedoing of the SS Sussex.

Granados attempted to save his wife Amparo, who had fallen into in the water but they both drowned.

Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)

Born in Sagunto (Valencia), Rodrigo  became almost completely blind at the age of three after contracting diphtheria.  Despite many attempts to restore his vision he completely lost his sight in 1948.

He studied for five years with Paul Dukas in Paris where he met Manuel de Falla, who became a friend and mentor.

Probably the most famous piece of Spanish music of all time is his Concierto d’Aranjuez. Written in 1939, it established his international reputation and laid the foundation for another six decades of composing.

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959)
Bachianas Brasileiras No.5:

Described as "the single most significant creative figure in Brazilian music”,  Villa-Lobos took very little formal training in composition, preferring to develop his style based on the indigenous music he heard on his travels into Brazil’s “dark interior” in 1905, and the music of the chorões (street musicians) with whom he played in his youth.

His uncompromising modernist style was poorly received in 1920s Brazil so, at the suggestion of his mentor Arthur Rubinstein, he spent much of the decade in Paris where his works made a strong impression and his talent became internationally accepted .

He returned to Sao Paulo from Paris in 1930 at the time of the October revolution.  Unable to go back to Paris because of travel restrictions, he embarked on a nine-month tour of the state “to bring classical music to the people”.  His love of the cello and the great composers - Bach in particular - plus his idea of a musical crusade that was both patriotic, political and educational led him to develop his series of compositions Bachianas Brasileiras (Brazilian pieces in the style of Bach), fusing his Brazilian heritage with the compositional style and techniques of Bach. No.5 was originally scored for soprano solo with an orchestra of cellos, and features this poem by Ruth Corrêa (translated):

Evening - a cloud, rose-colored,
ransparent and languid
in the vastness of the sky, dreamy and beautiful!
The moon quietly emerges from the infinity,
Luna, who adorns the evening like
a sweet girl who dreamily prepares herself,
longing to become beautiful.
Heaven, earth, yea, all nature greet her!
Silent are the birds,
when she sadly laments;
in the sea her rich splendour is reflected.
Softly the moonlight now awakens
a painful longing that weeps and laughs.
Evening - a cloud, rose-colored,
transparent and languid
in the vastness of the sky, dreamy and beautiful!

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959)
Song of the Black Swan

From his orchestral tone poem of 1916   The Shipwreck of Kleônicos, the composer  arranged O Canto de Cisne Negro for cello and piano in 1917.

Unlike the languid watery accompaniment of the more famous Swan by Saint-Saëns, Villa-Lobos’s Black Swan swims amid Amazonian waterfalls on a shimmering torrent of demi-semiquavers.

Radamés Gnatalli (1906–1988)   
Sonata for Cello and Guitar

Gnatalli was best known in Brazil as a conductor and arranger of popular music. The Sonata for Cello and Guitar was composed in 1969.  Though rooted in the Iberian musical style and classical traditions, this piece also draws on Bossa-Nova, jazz, carnival dances and drumming rhythms from the indigenous tribes of the Amazon.

Gnattali said of his music: “I have always worked with popular music and I really like it.  In fact, I owe it to this that I do something Brazilian today. My music is all Brazilian, based on folkloric and urban themes from Rio de Janeiro”.

Jaime Ovalle (1894-1955)
Azulão (Bluebird)

Jaime Ovalle was self-taught as a composer and was also known as a bad guitarist and poet manqué. His “day job” as an officer of the Ministério da Fazenda meant that he resided mostly in New York and London.

He was a person of huge charisma and charm but little application. His biographer Werneck says: “Everything he did was prodigious, but he didn't take the trouble to accomplish it. He couldn't, there just wasn't time!”.

Azulão was his most famous composition, his one-hit wonder. His friend, the poet Marcel Bandeira who wrote Azulão quipped that through Ovalle’s melody he had achieved  “guaranteed immortality” as the author of the song.

This “song of exile” quickly became a national treasure and was performed and recorded by many great artists including Victoria de los Angeles, Gerard Souzay and Arleen Augér.

Fly bluebird, my friend,
fly to my ungrateful love!
Say that without her this wilderness is ~
is not the same since she said goodbye,
Alas, fly bluebird, my friend,
fly to my ungrateful love!

Pablo de Sarasate  (1844-1908)
Spanish Dances Op.23:

Pablo de Sarasate was born in Pamplona, the son of an artillery bandmaster. At the age of five, after seeing his father struggle repeatedly to play a difficult passage, he apparently picked up the violin and played it perfectly. His first public performance was at the age of eight.

In 1859 he began the series of world concert tours that made him famous. Commentators of the time said his flawless technique, sweetness of tone and perfect intonation appeared effortless.  Sarasate later said “for 37 years I’ve practiced 14 hours a day, now they call me a genius!”

In addition to the canon of his virtuoso compositions for violin, Saint-Saëns, Dvorák and Bruch all wrote pieces for him.
In Flamenco a Zapateado is a fast dance featuring percussive foot-stamping, Zapato being Spanish for shoe.

Pablo Casals (1876–1973)
Song of the Birds

Regarded as one of the greatest cellists of all time, Casals’s long career remarkably included performances to both Queen Victoria and President Kennedy, the latter when he received the US presidential medal of freedom for his opposition to the Franco dictatorship. It is probably this political  fame and Casals’s adept cultivation of it that led to his legendary international status.

Like Manuel de Falla, he was exiled from Spain during Franco’s rule, living in Prades and Puerto Rico. Casals played the Catalan carol Song of the Birds at every concert as homage to his homeland Catalonia and to world peace.

Gaspar Cassadó (1897–1966)
Intermezzo and Danza Finale

When he was nine, Cassadó played in a recital in Barcelona. Pablo Casals, who was in the audience immediately offered to teach him, and the city of Barcelona awarded him a scholarship to study with Casals in Paris. Though initially very close, they became estranged after the second World War when Casals wrongly accused him of collaboration with the Italian fascist government.     

With the intercession of Yehudi Menhuin they were later reconciled but their friendship was never the same. It is likely that in the long term Cassadó’s career and reputation never recovered from Casals’s accusations.

The Danza Finale is the last movement of the Suite for Solo Cello written in 1926.

Alberto Ginastera (1916–1983)  
Triste Op.10, No.2

Ginastera was born in Buenos Aires to a Catalan father and Italian mother.
Written in 1943, Triste was the second of his Cinco Canciones Populares Argentinas. Much of Ginastera’s music like this song was inspired by the Gauchesco tradition, the Gauchos (landless horsemen) being a strong symbol of Argentinian identity.
Triste is not an adjective but refers to a type of slow song or dance originating with the Andean Kechua indians.
Ginastera’s signature chord - the open strings of the guitar - appears twice in Triste, he used this to create an image of the gauchos strumming their guitars in the wilderness.

Under a lemon tree
where the water didn't run
I gave my heart away to someone who didn't deserve it.       
Sadness is the day without the sun
Sadness is the night without the moon,      
But sadder than this is wanting without any hope.

Astor Piazzolla (1921–1992)
Histoire du Tango: Bordel 1900

The only son of Italian immigrants, Piazzolla was born in Mar del Plata Argentina, but spent most of his childhood in Manhattan.

Surviving on the tough streets of New York in the 1920s while his parents worked, he learnt to play Tangos on a Bandonéon bought by  his father in a pawn shop.

At the age of thirteen he met the tango king Carlos Gardel who immediately offered him a place in his orchestra on tour. To his dismay his father refused, saying he was too young. The entire orchestra then perished in a plane crash. He later joked “if I had gone, I would now be playing the harp, not the Bandonéon!”

His family returned to Argentina in 1936 where, at the suggestion of Arthur Rubinstein, he studied with Alberto Ginastera for five years and later Nadia Boulanger in Paris.

His compositions revolutionised tango into a new style “Nuevo Tango” incorporating elements of jazz and classical music.

Xavier Montsalvatge(1912-2002)
Cançion de cuna:
Ninghe Ninghe

Born in Barcelona, Montsalvatge was a Catalan composer, music critic and  professor of composition at the Barcelona Conservatory.

His compositional style developed in tandem with all the “avant-garde” generations of the 20th century: starting with Wagnerism, then twelve-tone technique, and (being closely in contact with the French composers Messiaën and Auric) free polytonality.

However, his most successful work and the one that brought him international fame was this cradle song Ninghe-Ninghe  from “Cinco canciones negras”, inspired by the  the music of the Antilles and written in 1945.

Ninghe Ninghe has been performed and recorded by many great artists including Victoria de los Ángeles, Teresa Berganza and Montserrat Caballé.

© Andrew Fuller 2023


Latin Serenade - John Mills - Guitar, Andrew Fuller - Cello