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Home CDE 84513 Homage A Lorca. Music for violin and piano - Siân Philipps - violin, Sophia Rahman - piano
CDE 84513Homage A LorcaIn Search of Duende
Siân Philipps - violinSophia Rahman - piano
SILVESTRE REVUELTAS - Three PiecesJOHN HAWKINS - Cortège?CECILIA McDOWALL - Not Just a PlaceFRANCIS POULENC - Violin SonataMAURICIO SOTELO - Estremedico por el vientoMANUEL DE FALLA - Suite Populaire EspagnoleGEORGE CRUMB - Four Nocturnes (Night Music II)
Federico Garcia Lorca was an artist in the widest sense. He was a musician, composer, painter and dramatist as well as being Spain’s greatest poet. His work combined Spain’s folklore with surrealist techniques. He mixed with many of the great artists of his time; Manuel de Falla, Salvador Dali, Eleanor Dusa, Pablo Neruda, Antonia Merce and many renowned bullfighters, cantors and dancers.
His curiosity as to the power certain performers possessed led him to search for an explanation. “Duende” then became the corner stone of his poetry.
There are stories of gypsies in Andalucia leaving their babies to cry until they had no voice left, only a croak. This wound which never healed stayed with them into adulthood and with this they sang flamenco. Lorca writes of prodigious interpreters of “Deep Song” dying of heart attacks as they destroyed their hearts in storms of feeling.
This is the spirit of duende; beauty born of pain, life intensified through death, a force of darkness rather than of light and its spontaneity such that it can never be repeated giving the illusion of heightened “living of the moment” and of being suspended in time.
To achieve this the artist has to strip himself of skill, knowledge, intelligence and technique so that the duende, a demonic earth spirit, will come and render the performance into spine-chilling art. The fight with duende compels the artist to breathe new life into art on the spur of the moment.
Lorca writes that the great artists of Spain knew that no emotion was possible without duende. He gives the example of a great singer who was performing in a bar with great skill and intelligence. Her eloquent listeners were so scornful of her “accomplished” performance that she downed some strong liquor and took to the stage again in a fury. She performed without skill, colour, or even voice but her scorched throat sang with such duende, fire and passion that her audience was moved to rip their clothes. In wounds the duende can see death and so appears. This is why the artist has to suffer in order that the duende will come and force him to produce inspirational, spontaneous creativity.
The duende brings about the primeval struggle between life giving forces (all that is fresh and newly born) and death and destruction. It plays the role of devil’s advocate with the performer, who, in order to win the battle, is provoked into heightened creativity, inspiration and intensity of emotion. It is a fight of deep primeval instincts and the result is the essence of creation, pure undistilled emotion and artistic truth.
In Deep Song, duende finds its most fertile ground. It is the song of generations of gypsies and reflects their ancient tradition and ways of life.
Lorca loved their extremes of emotion, their deep connection with nature and the simplistic way in which they took their problems to the moon, the wind, and the stars.
Through their earthiness and oneness with nature they understood the transience of life and lived all the more intensely, singing of their passions, sorrows, and the beauty of bird song and flowers. They knew that their songs did not belong to them but would continue to float down through the generations - each adding their own pain and sorrows.
The themes of death, darkness, night, weeping, the wind, the guitar, bird song, stars, pain and love, are the main elements of deep song and inspired much of Lorca’s work. Lorca’s poems have inspired countless others, including the composers featured on this disc who in turn have used these themes in their own works.
The Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, was also an accomplished violinist whose left-wing politics led him to Spain in 1937 to work in the music section of the loyalist government. The year before he died (of alcoholism, aged forty) he wrote “Homage to Garcia Lorca”.
He assimilated the characteristics of Mexican folk music into his own personal idiom, combining complex rhythms with humour, vigour and vivid colours.
The three pieces, dedicated to Francisco Moncayo, draw on his violinistic prowess in the virtuosic outer movements while using Mexican folk song as inspiration for the serene, muted slow movement with its ostinato accompaniment.
John Hawkins studied composition with Malcom Williamson and Elisabeth Lutyens. A CD of his work “Voices from the Sea” has just been issued by Meridian Records (CDE84496). Of this piece he writes:-‘Cortège?’ was written in 2002 and is strongly associated in my mind with Garcia Lorca’s beautiful but disturbing ‘Soneto’ which begins “A long silver spectre of leeling, the night breeze sighing, reopened my old wound...” The poem is saturated with images of love, grief, blood and decay and yet, he says, “Ah, how sweet a sound in my head!” ‘Cortège?’ was first performed by Siân Philipps and Sophia Rahman.
Cecilia McDowall is fast becoming one of Britain’s most popular and frequently performed composers. Her wide experience in teaching and composing has enabled the formulation of a uniquely original style that speaks directly to listeners, performers and singers alike. Recent commissions include works for the London Mozart Players, Fibonacci sequence, Schubert Ensemble, Ensemble Lumière, Paul Archibald and Presteigue Festival of Music. Her music has been recorded on Deux-Elles and NME labels.
The “Moon Dances” a major work for flute and piano commissioned by Susan Milan, was inspired by the imagery of Lorca’s poetry.
“Not just a place” for violin and piano takes place in Buenos Aires, birthplace of the Tango and venue of Lorca’s lecture “in search of duende”. A faded sign hangs over the stage; “Salon Argentina - not just a place but somewhere to make friends”. The tango opens with an air of desolation and loneliness but then gradually gathers itself into a dance of defiance.
Originally commissioned by Duncan McTier in 1999, then revised for the London Mozart players in 2001, the violin and piano version has been specially rearranged for Siân Philipps in 2003.
Francis Poulenc came to prominence through his songs and vocal music remained a large part of his output, fostered by his deep love of poetry. During the second world war, Poulenc expressed his left wing politics by joining the resistance and writing his violin sonata in 1943, revised in 1946. Death surrounds this dramatic work, dedicated to Lorca who was shot during the Spanish Civil war (for his left wing views), edited by Ginette Neveu, the great French violinist who was tragically killed in a plane crash a few years later.
It opens with a violin pizzicato depicting a gunshot and continues in a belligerent vein interspersed with something akin to a funeral procession and phases of intense lyricism. The second movement, entitled “Intermezzo” is headed by a line of Lorca’s poetry, “La guitarre fait pleurer meme les songes” (the guitar makes even dreams weep). The piano opens with a melancholy almost monastic chant which the violin answers with a warm Spanish flourish. The sweet poignancy of this movement evokes such a sultry Spanish mood that you can almost smell the orange blossom. It ends as if returning to reality from a dream with the gunshot motif. (Violin pizz. and gliss.).
Presto Tragico returns to the dramatic mood of the first movement with added frenzy, juxtaposing themes from the entire sonata culminating in a triumphant augmentation of the sonatas opening theme, ending with three gunshot pizzicatos.
Mauricio Sotelo was born in Madrid and studied in Vienna with Francis Burt and later with Luigi Nono.Winner of numerous awards, Sotelo has received commissions from Ensemble Modern, Spanish National Orchestra, Spanish Cultural Ministry, WDR Cologne, Klangforum Wien, Saarlãndischer Rundfunk, Rohan de Sarum, Yves Savary and Gustav Mahler Foundation. He has written several inspired by Lorca and his music will form a large Lorca Project in the Granada Festival 2005.
While experiences with the “Viennesse expresivo” school may have influenced him, in the means of “Cante hondo” (Deep song), Sotelo has found a fertile and, for him, authentic field for investigation of his musical material.
Timbral modulation and the changing of voices have always fascinated him. “I always wanted to write the kind of music flamenco singers sing”. Taking this notion of timbre a step further, Sotelo sees in timbral expressivity a formal means using micro pitch, articulation, dynamic, quartertones and micropitch which is especially evident in “Estremecido por el viento”
“Estremecido por el viento” (canto a Federico para violin solo) was written in July 2003 and was first performed by Siân Philipps.
Manuel De Falla became the central figure of 20th century music in Spain, through his orchestral mastery and aesthetic sense of history and spiritual heritage. His main contribution to Spanish Music was to demonstrate that traditional folk styles could become a composer’s personal idiom whilst retaining their essence.
In 1922, after extensive research, De Falla joined forces with Lorca to organise a festival in Granada to preserve the Andalucian art of Cante Jando (Deep song). His attitude to folk tradition is demonstrated in his 7 Spanish popular songs, which proved so popular that the notable Polish violinist Paul Kochanski arranged six of them for violin and piano;
In the 1960’s George Crumb established himself as one of the more individual American composers of contemporary music.
Deeply influenced by Lorca’s poetry, his music was designed to appeal to emotions as well as intellect.The “Four Nocturnes” composed in 1964 from the 2nd part of a cycle of works inspired by Lorca’s poetry. Their subtitle “Night Music II” follows on in the nocturnal mood of “Night Music I” composed in 1963 for soprano, keyboard and percussion.
Crumb evokes a feeling of “suspension in time” interupted briefly by the more animated second piece. Nervous tremelo effects, bird song and “Rain-Death” music are all evocative of Lorca’s poetry.
He employed various unorthodox timbral effects to create this atmosphere for example, Rapping sounds (on the wood of the violin with fingertips and on the metal beams of the piano with knuckles), pizzicato and harmonic effects and the use of a wire brush over the piano strings. © Siân Philipps 2005
Siân Philipps began to study the violin at the age of five. At 10, she gained a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School, taking masterclasses with Yehudi Menuhin and Felix Andrievsky. After a year at the Vienna Conservatoire she concluded her studies with Zakhar Bron in Germany. Siân has won many awards including the Ian Fleming, Emily English and the Blue Riband at the Eisteddfod of Wales.
Siân has given recital and concerto programmes in Britain and abroad including performances in Dusseldorf at the invitation of Lady Solti as part of the Young Musicians Series and in Newcastle under the baton of Ilan Volkov. In May 1997 she made her debut at the Purcell Room, South Bank Centre.
She has broadcast for BBC TV and radio, NDR Germany, Radio Stephansdom Vienna, S4C and BBC Wales and performed at numerous festivals including Schleswig Holstein, Aldeburgh Britten Pears, Henley and Plush.
In 2004 she made her debut with the Philharmonia orchestra and Jose Cura. Next season includes performances at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Symphony Hall, Birmingham and the Granada Festival.Siân plays a Stradavarius violin of 1699.
“She played with impressive command and with much colour and refinement to her phrasing”. The Strad. (March 2003)
(she plays with) “intense feeling and tonal beauty”. Musical Opinion (March 2003)
Sophia Rahman studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School with Peter Norris and Louise Kentner. After taking a first class honours degree in English at King’s College, London, she completed her studies at the Royal Academy of Music with Alexander Kelly and Malcom Matineau. She was elected an associate of the R.A.M. In 1997.
Since winning the Royal Overseas League Competition’s Accompanist Award and the Lisa Fuchsova Memorial Prize for a chamber music pianist in consecutive years, her work has encompassed a wide range of solo and chamber activities. She is a founder member of the acclaimed Plano-Dukes-Rahman trio (clarinet, viola, piano), which celebrates it’s tenth anniversary this year with the release of an ASV disc of the works of Max Bruch and a residency at Queen’s University, Belfast. She acts as an official accompanist for organisations such as the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition and has appeared with the Chamber ensembles of the English Chamber Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, and with the soloists of the Royal Opera House.
As concert soloist she has toured with the BT Scottish Ensemble, in works by Mozart and Shostakovich. Sophia has appeared at all the London recital halls and many across Europe, including the Concertgebouw, Koelner-Philharmonie and Musikverein, Wien. She has toured South America, the Indian Sub Continent and given a recital tour of Japan with the clarinettist Karl Leister.
She has broadcast for BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, All-India Radio, Netherlands Radio and for BBC, Japanese satellite and Turkish television, and has also played and presented a Debussy Prelude as part of a BBC TV children’s education series.
She has recorded several chamber music discs for ASV and Dutton, and Shostakovichs’s first piano concerto with the BT Scottish Ensemble for Linn records.