La Boda De Luis Alonso
Born October 10, 1854, Seville
Died February 19, 1923, Madrid
By the age of 12, Gerónimo Giménez was already playing in the first violin section of the Teatro Principal orchestra in his native Cadiz. A genuine prodigy, he became the director of an opera company five years later. In 1874, he enrolled at the Paris Conservatory, where he studied violin and composition. He traveled to Italy after graduation but soon returned to Spain, where he settled in Madrid. In 1885 he became director of the Teatro Apolo de Madrid and later the Teatro de la Zarzuela.
Giménez’s music has been cited as an influence on such Spanish notables as Joaquin Turina and Manuel de Falla. La Boda de Luis Alonso is a short-form zarzuela, a characteristic Spanish popular entertainment style of work that often includes singers and dancers. The title means The Marriage of Luis Alonso. The intermezzo from the piece demonstrates the ebullient energy of the Spanish showpiece tradition. There’s no question of where this music originated.
—Program notes by R. M. Teplitz
Variaciones concertantes, Opus 23
Born April 11, 1916, Buenos Aires
Died June 25, 1983, Geneva
A set of variations on a theme is one of the oldest of musical structures, and it has taken many forms across the last several centuries. As the twentieth century approached, composers became even more imaginative in their approach to variation form. Richard Strauss combined two different forms–the theme-and-variations and the cello concerto–to create his tone poem Don Quixote. In the Enigma Variations, Sir Edward Elgar fashioned each of the fourteen variations as a brief portrait of one of the people in his circle. In 1940 Paul Hindemith composed a set of variations for piano and orchestra that he called The Four Temperaments: each of the its four movements depicts one of the human temperaments.
By mid-twentieth century, two very different composers who lived and worked at virtually the opposite ends of the planet took a different approach: each wrote a set of variations that made the orchestra–and its individual members–the star of the show. In England in 1945 Benjamin Britten wrote his Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, a set of variations designed to teach children about the different instruments of the orchestra. In Buenos Aires in 1953 Alberto Ginastera wrote his Variaciones Concertantes, in which each variation or interlude spotlights a different instrument (or combination of instruments) from the orchestra.
The approach may be the same, but there are differences. Britten scores the Young Person’s Guide for a full symphony orchestra, he treats the instruments as sections rather than individuals, and he bases his variations on a theme by one of his favorite English composers, Henry Purcell–the Young Person’s Guide has a grand and sturdy English flavor. Ginastera, on the other hand, writes for a chamber orchestra, he treats the instruments as soloists, and his set of variations has a distinctly Argentinian flavor. When Ginastera wrote this music early in 1953, he was director of the conservatory of the province of Buenos Aires. One of his goals there was to encourage Argentinian composers and Argentinian music, and certain “native” elements appeared in his own music from this period. At the time of the premiere of the Variaciones Concertantes, Ginastera noted that “These Variations have a subjective Argentine character. Instead of using folkloristic material, the composer achieves an Argentine atmosphere through the employment of his own thematic and rhythmic elements.” The most striking of these is Ginastera’s imitation of the sound of the open strings of a guitar. That sequence of notes (E-A-D-G-B-E) opens the Variaciones Concertantes, and it will return later in the work.
A brief outline of the Variaciones Concertantes:
Tema per Violoncello ed Arpa—Only two instruments play in the presentation of the theme, which was Ginastera’s own: the harp sounds the “guitar” figure to open, and the cello sings the long theme, which the composer specifies should range from dolce to esultato.
Interludio per Corde—Muted strings sing this brief interlude, with the theme already varied in the violins.
Variazione giocosa per Flauto—This “happy” variation, full of bright rips of sound, makes virtuoso demands on the flutist, whose part has a cadenza-like brilliance.
Variazione in modo di Scherzo per Clarinetto—This variation has the clarinet dancing wildly along the 6/8 meter, its smooth sound set off by the pounding accompaniment as this variation rushes to its sudden, surprising close.
Variazione drammatica per Viola—This slow variation (marked Largo) features a cadenza full of doublestopping for the solo viola.
Variazione canonica per Oboe e Fagotto—Oboe and bassoon play in canon at the interval of one measure throughout this variation; the oboe leads in the first half, the bassoon in the second.
Variazione ritmica per Tromba e Trombone—The “rhythmic” character of this variation comes from its forceful syncopations, punched out by trumpet and trombone in the first measures and repeated throughout. Without pause this movement rushes directly into
Variazione in modo de Moto perpetuo per Violino—This movement puts the spotlight on the solo violin, which has racing triplets throughout. Along the way come such hurdles as quick string-crossings, multiple-stopping, and left-handed pizzicatos.
Variazione pastorale per Corno—This variation emphasizes the “pastoral” side of the horn rather than its heroic, forceful side. The solo line, marked dolce, sings above minimal string accompaniment.
Interludio per Fiati—This second interlude, a subdued chorale based on the principal theme, is for winds only.
Reprisa dal Tema per Contrabasso—Ginastera recalls his theme (now slightly varied) from the very beginning, here played by solo doublebass with harp accompaniment.
Varizione finale in modo de Rondo per Orchestra—For the concluding variation, Ginastera employs the entire orchestra. This finale is full of rhythmic energy, and there are some nice surprises here: the steady 6/8 pulse of the opening suddenly gives way to 7/8 in the course of the movement, and listeners may detect more than a whiff of Stravinsky along the way. Some of the instruments used sparingly so far–piccolo and timpani–now come to prominence, and the Variaciones Concertantes drive to a blazing conclusion.
Igor Markevitch led the premiere performance of the Variaciones Concertantes in Buenos Aires on June 2, 1953. Antal Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra gave the American premiere six months later, on December 21, 1953, and made the first recording of the piece the following year.
—Program note by Eric Bromberger
Concerto for Flute, a New Mexico premiere
Born April 30, 1960, Puerto Rico
We are excited to present the New Mexico premiere of this piece by Puerto Rican composer/arranger/music director and instrumentalist, Dr. Mariano Morales. Commissioned by our very own Guillermo Figueroa along with the Lynn Conservatory, the concerto is one movement comprising of three sections. Bringing in influences from both Jazz and Latin American style brought to life by the aptly-matched flute of Nestor Torres, the piece starts off with a tonal, lively rhythm, with the flute at many points being matched by such supporting sonorities as marimba and tremolando strings, and progresses through a slow middle movement to a grand finale infused with the Puerto Rican dance rhythm of bomba sicà.
The concerto was commissioned by Maestro Guillermo Figueroa and the Lynn University Conservatory of Music. The world premiere of the piece was performed on April 21, 2018, by the Lynn Philharmonia in Florida. Written in one uninterrupted movement, the concerto has three main sections (Fast, Slow, Fast). The concerto uses the Puerto Rican Bomba Sicá rhythm to generate both melodic and rhythmic ideas that are woven into the composition.
The piece begins with an unaccompanied introductory melody by the soloist. Then, the main theme is presented and developed by the soloist and the orchestra. The slow middle section showcases the lyrical aspects of the soloist and leads into the cadenza. The percussion section begins an extended exchange which showcases the different sections of the orchestra. This passage is followed by some improvisation by the soloist and culminates with a tutti by the orchestra and soloist. In the finale of the piece, the bassoon brings back the melody originally played in the Intro by the flute. This is followed by a last commentary by the soloist and orchestra thus, bringing the composition full circle.
The composition is a tribute to the Puerto Rican people, who although devastated by Hurricane María, are resilient, hopeful, and strong of spirit. Musical devices such as the song of the Coquí (authochthonous small toad), and the use of the Bomba rhythm, serve as reminders of the sense of pride of the Puerto Rican people on the island and those abroad.
El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), Suite No. 2
MANUEL DE FALLA
Born November 23, 1876, Cádiz, Spain
Died November 14, 1946, Córdoba, Argentina
In 1916-17, Spanish composer Manuel de Falla composed a pantomime titled El corregidor y la molinara—“The Magistrate (or governor or mayor) and the Miller’s Wife”—and this was produced in Madrid in 1917. It attracted the attention of the impresario Serge Diaghilev, who suggested to the composer that it might work better as a ballet, and the two of them planned a revision that would incorporate more Spanish material. The result was the ballet El sombrero des tres picos (“The Three-Cornered Hat”), composed in 1918-19 and first produced in London on July 22, 1919. That first performance was the result of a spectacular collaboration: Diaghilev oversaw the production, Leonid Massine designed the choreography and danced the part of the miller, while Tamara Karsavina danced the part of his wife; Pablo Picasso painted the decor, and Ernst Ansermet conducted the orchestra. It was a great success then, and it has remained one of Falla’s most popular works.
The reasons for that popularity are not hard to discover: The Three-Cornered Hat is a story full of romance, humor, and charm, it breathes the warm atmosphere of Andalusia, and it is told in brilliant music. The plot tells of a miller and his beautiful young wife, their flirtations and intrigues, and the trickery that ensues when a third party comes upon this situation. The couple is visited one day by a corregidor (the magistrate, whose three-cornered hat symbolizes his authority), and he quickly develops an eye for the beautiful young wife. He orders the miller arrested to clear his own path to the wife, but his flirtation ends in humiliation when he falls into a stream. The corregidor lays out his clothes to dry, and the returning miller discovers them and puts them on, then sets out in pursuit of the magistrate’s wife. It all ends happily: the police rush in and accidentally arrest their own magistrate, the miller and his wife swear their mutual devotion, and the ballet concludes as the happy townspeople toss an effigy of the magistrate in a blanket.
Falla drew two orchestral suites from the ballet. The first is made up of music from the first scene, while the second–sometimes titled Three Dances from The Three-Cornered Hat–consists of the three major dances from the final scene, and each of these is a characteristic dance from a specific region in Spain. The Neighbors’ Dance is a seguidilla, a dance of Andalusian origin. It comes from the very beginning of the scene, as neighbors gather at the miller’s house on St. John’s Eve–it is a warm summer evening, and they drink and dance. The Miller’s Dance is a farucca, an ancient dance of gypsy origin. This one is full of rhythmic energy, and the miller dances it to demonstrate his strength and masculinity to his wife. It opens with solos for French and English horns, but then the music turns rough: full of hard-edged strength, it grows stronger as it develops, finishing with a great flourish of energy. The Final Dance is a jota, a lively dance from northern Spain, often danced to the accompaniment of guitar and castanets. Here it is danced to celebrate the defeat of the corregidor–Falla draws themes from the dance of the miller’s wife in the first scene and drives the suite to its close in a blaze of energy.
—Program Note by Eric Brombarger
FALLA Suite No. 2 from The Three-Cornered Hat
The Neighbors’ Dance
The Miller’s Dance
The Final Dance