domingo, 30 de enero de 2022

Lowell Lieberman. Concierto para pícolo, op. 50 (1996)

La música de Liebermann se mueve dentro del tonalismo por lo que se entiende muy bien, incluso podría parecer que demasiado en una primera escucha. Sin embargo, sus juegos armónicos y tímbricos nos llevan por paisajes sonoros variados y emocionantes. 

Esta pieza se caracteriza, además, por incluir varias citas musicales, en particular de la tercera sinfonía de Beethoven y de la número cuarenta de Mozart (ver Musical Styles). En este sentido, el tercer movimiento es un intenso y presto diálogo con el pasado.

Sus movimientos son:

I. Andante comodo
II. Adagio
III. Presto 

domingo, 23 de enero de 2022

Alberto Ginastera. Concierto para piano n.º 1 (1961)

Ginastera escribió de su concierto: "No hay más células melódicas o rítmicas folclóricas, ni hay ningún simbolismo. Sin embargo, hay elementos constantes argentinos, como ritmos fuertes y obsesivos y adagios meditativos que sugieren la tranquilidad de la Pampa; sonidos mágicos y misteriosos que nos recuerdan la naturaleza críptica del país". (LA Phil

Lo cierto es que se trata de una obra intensa, a veces salvaje, a veces introspectiva, que termina con un cuarto movimiento con evocaciones primitivas, casi brutales. 

El concierto consta de lo siguientes movimientos: 
  1. Cadenza e varianti 
  2. Scherzo allucinante 
  3. Adagissimo 
  4. Toccata concertata   

En 1973, el grupo de rock progresivo Emerson, Lake & Palmer incluyó en su álbum Brain Salad Surgery una versión del cuarto movimiento titulada Toccata realizada por Keith Emerson. De ella dijo Ginastera que era "Diabólica", para añadir después “Ustedes han capturado la esencia de mi música, y nadie lo había logrado hasta ahora.” (Clarín)

Por cierto: la inquietante portada del álbum es de H. R. Giger

domingo, 16 de enero de 2022

Friedrich Cerha. Concierto para percusión y orquesta (2007-2008)

Hay músicas que sugieren historias. El Concierto para percusión y orquesta de Friedrich Cerha nos deja sin aliento por la variedad, complejidad y dramatismo de sus tramas. Y nadie mejor que el espectacular percusionista Martin Grubinger para contárnoslas. 

El propio Cerha nos introduce en la obra: 

"Martin Grubinger was still a young man, although already a well-known percussionist, when he attended a performance of my Chansons with H. K. Gruber and three musicians from the “die reihe” ensemble. He very much liked my differentiated treatment of the percussion; Gruber introduced us and Grubinger asked me if I would write a concerto for him. It took a little time before my musical imagination took hold of that, but then I composed the piece in one go in 2007/2008.

"While I was writing it I had not yet heard Grubinger play, and I never tried to contact him while I was working; I did not want to be influenced in any way – yet today I read that I had written the piece as if tailor-made for him and – although he described it as the most difficult thing he had ever played – he made it his own so brilliantly that the description seemed to fit.

"Each of the piece’s three movements has its own array of solo instruments, the percussionist changing positions in every one until, at the end, he returns to his initial one. (Contrary to custom, exact pitches are given for all the percussion instruments – even the tom-toms, temple blocks, wood blocks and cowbells).

"The first and third sections of the first movement and the end of the piece are marked by eruptive blocks of sound, the drums dominating. The orchestral texture consists of three layers of short pitches of sophisticated rhythmical organisation, based on a magic square in which different sequences of figures total 34. Continuous motion is provided by the soloist and a single horns and tuba line only. The overall effect is of an insistent, drilling character.

"The second movement is more lyrical, dominated by resonating instruments –vibraphone, bells, gongs, crotales and bowls. Together, they create an impression of a calm, sonic carpet. Polymetric organisation provides motion within that area; various instruments repeat pitches separated equally but varying in length in the individual voices, yielding differing simultaneous adjacent speeds. I was originally stimulated by observing the slow movements of heavenly bodies and ways of catching up and overtaking which play a part in many areas of life.

"I am especially fond of one very calm passage where extremely short events in the percussion break through very quiet string and wind chords. Experiences in the stillness of the nocturnal forest – a snap of a twig, a rustling in the leaves, a tired, faint birdcall – may well have played a role in my imagination.

"The third movement has a scherzo-like character, the high, clear sounds of the xylophone, wood blocks and log drums dominating the motion in a frenzied tempo. The classic sound of a solo instrument is often omitted in recent concert literature – but I love the interaction of a solo instruments and its compatriots in the orchestra in my instrumental concerti; in this movement, there even develops a distinct, transient interchange between the solo xylophone and the xylophone player in the orchestra, this “counter-soloist” imitating or continuing the soloist’s phrases.

"The final section of the last movement returns – not verbatim, of course – to the eruptive drum events of the first movement, before it closes by repeating the beginning in mirrored form, i.e. cancrizans."

Friedrich Cerha


domingo, 9 de enero de 2022

Mike Mower. Sonata para pícolo y piano (2002)

La música de Mower es fundamentalmente tonal, aunque dicen los que saben que es de gran dificultad técnica. Flautista y saxofonista, ha compuesto principalmente para instrumentos de viento, lo que explica la exigencia con la que trata el pícolo. Los ritmos de jazz son evidentes.     

El propio autor habla de su obra: 

"When I was commissioned to write a sonata for piccolo and piano in 2002, I have to admit I was less than enthusiastic about the idea at first. There are only two instruments which can penetrate the fortissimo of the full orchestra - the triangle and the piccolo in its top register. Often referred to by musicians sitting nearby as the "AK47 of the Symphony Orchestra" or "The Screaming Twig", this smallest of all woodwind instruments hasn't enjoyed much good publicity to date. Why?

"Much of the past repertoire for solo piccolo has focussed on the comedy aspect of this instrument, incorporating ear splitting shrieks and high bird like trills. All this is possible but there's much more to the piccolo than that. We all know about the power and razor-like possibilities of the top register but in its bottom register the piccolo can take on a charming woody, hollow and ethereal quality and the middle register can be commanding and assured without being being overpowering but also sweet and lyrical.

"When writing the sonata I was very conscious of wanting to show the true potential of the piccolo whilst integrating an interesting piano part, but above all creating something which an audience might enjoy. I opted to use many jazz elements in the piece.

"The first movement is a brisk 12/8 feel with the piccolo playing at the bottom of its register whilst being agile and fluid. This progresses to a jazzy groove section where much of the swing is implied by piccolo key slaps and the tapping of piano fingers. The movement concludes with a re-working of the first section, only at the end is the piccolo allowed to rise into the stratosphere.

"Movement Two again concentrates on the lower end of the instrument with the piano taking the lead half way through in a quasi-improvised solo with lush jazz harmonies.

"The last movement is a fast "tour de force" for both instruments, the piano incorporates a walking bassline whilst the piccolo alternates with spiky phrases and flowing scalic passages. A lyrical break-down section leads back to the original feel

"When a flute student reaches a certain level of competence, there comes a day when they decide to invest in a piccolo to increase their chances of employment. Upon receiving the instrument all too often it is treated like a new toy at Christmas which is played relentlessly for the first few hours and then put in a drawer only to be pulled out occasionally throughout the year when boredom strikes. This is not the way to treat the piccolo! Clarinettists can pull out the bass clarinet and sound good on it in a couple of hours, saxophonists can swap from alto to tenor to baritone with ease but it does not follow that a good flute player will sound good on the piccolo. It is an instrument in its own right which needs to be played and practiced constantly to sound its best. There are very few piccolo players in this world who have mastered their instrument to the extent that it is a real pleasure to listen to, Stewart Mc'Ilwham is one of them. His rendition of the sonata is played with style, accuracy, groove and beauty - wonderfully accompanied by Tim Carey on piano. Thanks guys for such a great performance!

Mike Mower
May 2006