Free Programme notes

The following notes are free for all to use, as long as I am identified somewhere as the originator (Gerald Garcia).

Please feel free to use, edit and distribute.

More notes will be added in due course, under the same conditions.

Notes for Kuang Junhong’s CD

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)
Capriccio Diabolico, op. 85

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was successful as a composer and performer in his native Italy until anti-Semitic laws resulted in his music being banned. In the summer of 1939, he left Italy for the United States and finally settled in California.
Here, Tedesco became a sought after composer of film scores in Hollywood As well as film music, he wrote orchestral and chamber works and nearly 100 compositions for guitar.
Capriccio diabolico, op. 85 was composed in 1935 for Andres Segovia. Subtitled “Homage to Paganini,” Capriccio diabolico pays homage to the virtuosity of Niccolo Paganini. The diabolic reference in the title tells the story of Paganini selling his soul to the devil in return for transcendental violinistic virtuosity. The one movement work describes his wish for absolution, but the devil wins in the end with a quote from the finale of Paganini’s second Violin Concerto (the famous “Campanella” theme).

Agustin Barrtios (1885-1944)
Un Sueño en la Floresta
Choro da Saudade

Born in Paraguay, Barrios began to develop a love for music and literature as a small child and would eventually speak two languages (Spanish and Guarani), and read three more (English, French and German). He became interested in music and in particular the guitar in his teens and concluded his musical studies in the country’s capital, Asunción. 
He travelled throughout Latin America as a guitar virtuoso, and with the support of the diplomat Tomás Salomini, he travelled to Europe in 1934, giving recitals in Belgium, Germany and Spain. 
Two years later he returned to South America and from 1939 until his death, he taught in the National Musical Conservatory in El Salvador. Besides composing over 100 works for the guitar, he was revered as a poet. 
Proud of his Guarani Indian origins, Barrios would occasionally appear in typical indigenous costume, advertising himself as the “Paganini of the guitar of Paraguay’s jungle”. He adopted the name Mangoré, as a homage to a famous Guarani chief.
Un Sueño en la Floresta (A Dream in the Forest) and Choro da Saudade are typical of Barrios’ Romantic style and are technically demanding for the player, requiring exceptional stretches of the left hand, the use of the 20th fret, and various right hand techniques including tremolo. “A Dream in the Forest” reflects the composer’s appreciation of the beautiful scenery of his native Paraguay whilst “Choro da Saudade” is a Brazilian evocation of nostalgia and longing.

Johann Sesbastian Bach (1685-1750)
Chaconne from Partita No. 2 for Violin, BWV 1004

In 1720, Johann Sesbastian Bach was serving as Kapellmeister in the city of Cöthen. In addition to his work as Kappellmeister , he had begun work on his Brandenburg Concertos as well as the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier. 
During this period he also completed his works for unaccompanied violin, notably the three sonatas and three partitas (suites), BWV 1001-1006. The sonatas contain preludes, fugues and allegros while the partitas are collections of dances. These are typically the allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue. Only one of the six works contains a chaconne.
The chaconne was originally a slow dance consisting of variations on a harmonic or a bass progression. It was used frequently at the end of an opera in the French tradition to sum up themes from the rest of the opera.
In this Chaconne, Bach does indeed sum up the preceding movements of the partita. The Chaconne has been transcribed for keyboard, lute, viola da gamba and was made famous on the guitar by Segovia. The variations run the gamut of emotion and technique and the work is often abstracted from the rest of the partita as a showcase for the performer.

Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
Danza Española No.4 “Villanesca”

Granados was born in Lleida, Spain and studied the piano in Barcelona, subsequently going to Paris and studying privately with Charles-Wilfrid de Bériot who encouraged his improvisational abilities, and Felip Pedrell, the Catalan musicologist and composer who opened his eyes to the folk music of his country.
The 12 Danzas Españolas are among his earliest works. Each dance has a very distinctive rhythmic and style, and most contain a slow and very expressive middle section. They are all brilliant in capturing the essence of the Spanish character.
Granados himself was an extraordinary virtuoso pianist of subtlety and grace and died at a relatively young age when returning from an extremely successful premiere of his opera “Goyescas” given in New York in 1916. His return was delayed by an invitation of the American president, Woodrow Wilson to play at the White House and the ship in which he returned to Europe was torpedoed by a German U Boat while crossing the English Channel.
Before leaving America Granados made live player piano music rolls for the New-York-based Aeolian Company’s “Duo-Art” system, all of which survive today and have been reissued on CD.

Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)
Suite Española, Op. 47 “Sevilla”

The Spanish composer and pianist, Albéniz, performed for the first time in public in the city of Barcelona when he was only four years old. His entire youth was very unsettled, with successive changes of residence, even reaching the point of stowing away on a boat to South America when he was twelve years old, supporting himself by playing. From 1883 onwards he set up residence in Barcelona and there he met Felip Pedrell, whose influence would be crucial to the creation of his Spanish style. In 1890 he abandoned his concert-performing career to devote his time to composing, and from 1893 onwards, he spent most of his time in Paris.
Isaac Albéniz’s Suite Española, Op. 47, originally for solo piano is composed mainly of separate works written in 1886 which were grouped together in 1887. Like many of Albeniz’s works for the piano, these pieces depict different regions and musical styles in Spain. Thus Sevilla is a Sevillanas from Seville. Albeniz’s music was transcribed early on by the guitarist Francisco Tarrega and is most often heard on the guitar nowadays in which form he is said to have preferred it.

Luigi Legnani (1790-1877)
Selection from 36 Caprices, op.20

Legnani was born in Ferrara in and died in Ravenna, where he spent much of his early life. Legnani studied music and the guitar in Ravenna, performed as a tenor with the local opera company, and made his début as a guitarist in Milan in 1819. He was a great success at his début in Vienna, and his concert tours included all the western capitals, from Madrid to St Petersburg. For the next thirty years, Legnani became part of the European musical mainstream, meeting and collaborating with Rossini and Paganini. He not only performed with Paganini, but he also stayed with him at his estate near Parma during one of his friend’s long convalescences,. In later life, Legnani became interested in guitar construction and in seeking to improve his instrument collaborated with the Viennese luthier Johann Anton Staufer, with whom he created the “Legnani model” guitars. In later life, Legnani retired to Ravenna, where he himself became a renowned builder of violins and guitars.
He is perhaps best known for his 36 Caprices for the guitar, which cover all the major and minor keys, and which were probably inspired by Paganini’s 24 Caprices for the violin.

Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856)
Fantaisie Hongroise Op.65

Mertz was the son of very poor parents and during childhood received some elementary instruction on the guitar and the flute. In order to be of financial assistance to the family he gave lessons on these instruments by the time he was twelve years of age.
When he was 34 he moved to Vienna where he appeared as guitar soloist at a concert given in the Court Theatre under the patronage of Empress Carolina Augusta. He was a great hit and Mertz was appointed Court guitarist to the Empress. During the next two years he made extended concert tours through Moravia, Poland and Russia. Other concerts followed in Dresden, Berlin, Breslau, Leipzig and Prague.
The last period of his career saw Mertz repeating his successes of former years, but always being prone to ill health, he died in Vienna in October 1858 after returning from a short concert tour. His composition, Fantaisie Hongroise posthumously won a prize offered by a Russian nobleman and guitar fan, M. Makaroff. (The second prize was awarded to the French guitarist Napoleon Coste for his Grande Serenade.)
In his concerts Mertz used a ten stringed guitar, and his wife Josephine Plantin frequently appeared with him in concerts, accompanying him on the piano.

Notes for Etudes Esquisses

The Etudes Esquisses began life as studies for the intermediate guitarist. I was cajoled, urged and generally bothered into writing them by Alison Bendy, who saw a need for such studies as an alternative to those of Carcassi or Brouwer.

As more of them came into being (at the rate of one a day) I realised that this was an opportunity to learn about guitar composition and sonority in a concise context. It was particularly difficult to write music that was interesting, but not too challenging
The title of the collection – Esquisses – can mean sketches, which indicates my original attitude to them.
The titles of the original pieces, which were added afterwards are mainly whimsical being multilingual puns, but they also often indicate the original inspiration for the composition. For instance: Les Ajoncs d’Or (golden gorse) was written in Normandy during a particulary warm spring, when the gorse was in full flower in a river valley called Les Ajoncs d’Or ; Le Grand Brasseur (The Great Brewer) is a homage to the composer Leo Brouwer; l’Hommage d’un Hommage (homage of a homage) is a reference to Le Tombeau de Debussy, the only guitar composition of Manuel de Falla; Milles Anges(a thousand angels) is a homage to Astor Piazzolla and refers to his penchant for naming tangos after angels as well as to the fact that it is a mixture of keys (mélange) and a milonga. Other titles refer to countries e.g. Cafe Venezolano, Terre Noire (South Africa) or other compositions – Aprés midi d’un Cafard (Afternoon of a Cockroach or – avoir Cafard = a French expression of melancholy or depression), L’Amour Soucoupier (Love the Saucerer), Pavane pis-aller (Dead end Pavan, in the style of Diego Pisador, the 16th century vihuela player). I hope that you might have a diverting time working out the other titles!

Notes on “Le Grazie”

Le Grazie was originally written for string trio (2 violins and Cello) and guitar as a companion to the Vivaldi D major “lute” concerto.

It was originally performed by its dedicatee Alison Bendy with students from Wheatley Park School in 2001 and has since been a favorite at summer schools in an arrangement for solo guitar and guitar orchestra. It has been performed over 40 times all over the world and was conducted by the composer in the 2nd Swedish “Guitar instead of Guns” Gala in 2002 with, amongst others Zoran Dukic, Roland Dyens and Wolfgang Lendle in the orchestra!

It is in three movements in the form of an Italian concerto and the movements are :

Night Sounds (tempo di boogie woogie – homage to Fats Waller)
Clear Day (homage to Vivaldi)
Star Rise (homage to Michael Tippett)

Notes on the “Lorca Concerto”

The concerto for two guitars and orchestra is based on three Spanish folk songs collected by FredericoGarcia Lorca – Anda Jaleo, Los Mozos de Monleon and Los Reyes de la Baraja. Anda Jaleo is a gipsy exhortation, Los Mozos is a sad story about the young men of Monleon, one of whom is killed in a bullfight, and Los Reyes is a song by a woman who thinks that, as there are four kings in a pack of cards, why should she settle for a single lover? The shadow of war, particularly the Spanish Civil war, extends over the first two movements while the third is an evocation of a fiesta. The piece as a whole is a dedication to Manuel de Falla, who never wrote a piece for guitar and orchestra (but should have).

Notes on “Wherever You Are, There I Am Also…”

“Wherever you are…there I am also” is a concerto for marimba and guitar orchestra in two movements.
The music is inspired by tnbhe idea that very close friends who have gone away or who have died are still with us in a special way. Our relationship lives on in our thoughts and actions when we imagine they are still with us.
“Wherever you are…” The marimba represents the departed in an imagined other worldfilled with fragments of shared experiences. After a short introduction, which is an entry into a dreamworld, the first section is a dance in the form of a “Bouyon” from the Carribean island of Dominica.
The second and final movement is an extended transcription of Mahler’s famous Adagietto from his fifth symphony and represents the reunion of the departed with those who are left behind.
“Wherever you are…there I am also” was first performed at the 2009 Iserlohn International guitar festival and inspired by the joy and friendship which many find there. It is dedicated to the memory of Patsy Wood.

Notes on the “Aeneid Fragments”

At the time that Stephen Gordon suggested I write a piece for the Teign Choral Society I was barely aware of world events which would eventually lead to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq but the subsequent development of the war subtly affected the feeling and direction of the work, almost unconsciously.

As the piece progressed I had yet to find a text. The content was becoming more martial not only because of the daily news but also because of the instrumentation available (brass, timpani, organ). When various friends suggested I look at Virgil’s Aeneid (an epic full of stories of adventure,valour, love, folly and war), I knew I had found words to express what was growing musically.

The first text to appear was the famous phrase ” sunt lachrimae rerum” (tears are in the nature of things).
At the beginning of the work this is sung by the choir in a fragmented form as if coming into focus from a vast distance. This incorporates a quote from John Dowland’s famous “Lachrymae Pavan”.
After a tumultous and bellicose brass introduction the choir declaims  “Arma virumque cano”  – “I sing of arms and the man”. This is found at the very opening of the Aeneid thus indicating the nature of the epic and incidentally also fitting the purpose of my work.
A savagely jolly organ then accompanies the wrath of the gods bringing destruction and confusion on the city of Troy (“succuritus urbi incensae”) followed by solo choir pleading the gods to have mercy on their faithful servants (“Di, prohibite minas, talem averte casum et placidi servite pios”).
There follows a grim war dance between the brass and timpani leading to the choir once again proclaiming “Arms and the man” (incidentally a famous medieval song which was the basis of several religious choral works) interwoven with a renewed plea for mercy and the motto of the American Union! (itself misquoted from the Aeneid . “Annuit coeptis” – meaning “seize the time”- is found on the dollar bill).
A possible note of hope ends the work in the heartbeat rhythm of the timpani – “avert your wrath from the homes of the peaceful”.

I would like to thank Stephen Gordon and the Teign Choral Society for making this performance possible through the generosity of the Claude and Margaret Pike Trust. The work is dedicated to the memory of Claude Pike (1915-2002).

Notes for “The Romantic Guitar” CD

Francisco Tarrega (1854-1909) was not only the epitome of the guitar romantic, but was a genuine innovator for the instrument – he founded modern guitar technique, persuaded the guitar maker Torres to produce a larger instrument for use in concert halls, and produced numerous transcriptions and original works for the instrument. Despite a painful eye condition (his eye lashes grew inwards), he travelled widely in Europe including his native Spain and performed in the Wigmore Hall in London. Capricho Arabe and Adelita! were among the first of his pieces to be published and have become classics of the guitar repertoire. His arrangements of themes from Verdi’s La Traviata, based on a novel by Dumas about the doomed affair of a consumptive courtesan, were written for an eccentric but rich Englishman by the name of Dr.Walter Leckie, who followed Tarrega around Europe when not working as a surgeon in the Chilean Army.

Another early fan of Tarrega’s was the Spaniard, Alberto Obregon (1872-1922), the son of a merchant who worked in Australia and South Africa before finally marrying an Englishwoman and settling in London. On hearing a performance of Tarrega’s, Obregon realised his own shortcomings as a guitarist and immediately begged the maestro for lessons. The waltz A Ma Mie is dedicated to Tarrega after Obregon became part of London’s musical life, performing occasionally before King Edward and Queen Alexandra.
The Frenchman Napoleon Coste (1806-1883) performed and lived for some years in Paris, where he was able to mingle with the great guitarists of his day, and developed his own, highly romantic and virtuosic style of music exemplified by the Andante et Polonaise, which has the subtitle Souvenirs de Jura . Despite his evident skill as a musician, Coste made a living by being a civil servant in Paris, possibly as the result of an accident in which he broke his arm and was no longer able to perform in public.
Madame Sidney Pratten (1821-1895) was born Catherina Pelzer, the daughter of an eminent guitarist, who moved from Austria to England. She created a stir in London society when she first began performing in public at the age of eight – in one concert, in which she played duets with the great Giulio Regondi (also eight at the time) she and her partner had to sit on top of a grand piano in order to be seen! She later married a famous flautist, Robert Sidney Pratten, who unfortunately died soon after, but she kept the name and went on to be the teacher of Queen Victoria’s daughters, Princesses Louise and Beatrice, to whom she dedicated her Guitar Tutor, from which the Prelude, Daisy and the arrangement of The Last Rose of Summer are drawn. In all likelihood, she met the Irish poet Thomas Moore, who accompanied himself on the guitar and played his way into the hearts of Victorian drawing room audiences with his impassioned poems to Irish melodies (he was a friend of Sir Walter Scott).

 

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) of course did not write for the guitar, but he was Queen Victoria’s piano teacher, and the Venetian Gondola Song from Songs Without Words might well have been one of Her Majesty’s favorite pieces. My arrangement is in homage to Tarrega, who also heard the sound of the guitar evoked by the music’s calm accompaniment and mysterious melody.
One of Madame Sidney Pratten’s most talented students (Alberto Obregon was another) was Ernest Shand (1868-1924), whom she declared unable to teach, as he was her superior in technique and compositional skill. However, she was unstinting in her encouragement of the young Yorkshireman – she gave him music unobtainable elsewhere, and was the first publisher of his pieces. Shand, whose musical education began as a violinist with the encouragement of his parents, made a living as an actor in music halls and gave occasional recitals in his spare time to critical acclaim. He was eventually persuaded by his wife and friends to take up the guitar professionally, but had to return to acting after spending a great deal on a studio and advertising in London. He travelled as far as Australia as an actor and gave guitar performances there. On his return, he toured Britain and entertained the troops at the outbreak of the Great War. It was during one of these trips that he was attacked in his dressing room by an aggrieved Russian and sustained injuries which lasted until his death in Birmingham. In this first recording of some of his music I hope to bring out the lyrical and gently interesting harmonic language of the most important composer for the guitar in England of his time, whose legacy extends to over two hundred pieces, including the first English guitar concerto.

Assorted Notes

VIVALDI Lute Trio in G Minor, Trio in B Minor

A distant model for the scoring of the two trios can be found in the guitar trios of G.B. Granata (Novi Capricci, Bologna 1674). In these the violin doubles the guitar melody an octave higher, but because the baroque guitar is so lacking in bass (the fourth string D is the lowest note), a viola (da braccio, i.e. ‘cello) contributes the bass. Since Vivaldi’s lute compositions were published in 1949-60 (edited by G.F, Malipiero), there has been uncertainty about the type of lute for which Vivaldi wrote. The confusion stems both from Vivaldi’s use of the treble clef for the leuto, and from Malipiero’s edition, which does not consistently reproduce the original. Fortunately there is no doubt about the exact notes Vivaldi wrote for the instrument, because all four pieces are extant in autograph scores in the Biblioteca Nazionale, Turin. The leuto parts of these pieces are written in treble clef as a melody (never supported by the harmony one might expect on the lute), or occasionally as three-note chords, lacking the bass, to be played arpeggio. The problem has been to decide whether to play at the written pitch on a small ‘soprano’ lute, or whether to transpose the music down an octave for either baroque lute or archlute. One of the possibilities is eliminated immediately because there is no evidence for the existence of a ‘soprano’ lute in the early 18th century. The clefs Vivaldi used for the leuto part in the D major Lute Concerto suggest that the music notated in treble clef should be transposed down an octave. The layout of parts in this implies that the solo part was transposed down an octave, as guitar music today, so that it could be played on the same instrument that played at the beginning. Thus we are performing the music on a guitar this evening, as a possible alternative instrumental choice of Vivaldi’s had it existed in his day.

In the first movement of the Trio in G minor the lute doubles the violin, except bars 10-12 where it has a more idiomatic triplet figure to complement the violin’s sustained notes, and bars 19-24 where arpeggios are used. The last movement begins in tenths, but for only two bars. Surprisingly the beginning of the second half does not match this, being in octaves, but the tenths reappear in bars 18-21. Perhaps Vivaldi had been asked by Count von Wrtby for trios similar to the Lauten-Concert with which he was familiar (Prague is only 200 miles from Vienna), but that Vivaldi couldn’t prevent himself from introducing elements of the trio sonata proper. It must have seemed wasteful to have two melody instruments doubling the tune. The Trio in B minor is, in fact, an early trio sonata scored for musetta, viella, flute or oboe and string trio. As there is no bagpipe (or accordion) or hurdy-gurdy in this group, the guitar again takes the place of the principal instrument.

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Free Programme Notes by Gerald Garcia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

One thought on “Free Programme notes

  1. a0When I was working on the 2nd Lute Suite, the Prelude I kept on 30 mienuts. a0However, the Sarabande and Gigue went to 15 mienuts each. a0The Double was kept at 30 mienuts and the Fugue was split into

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