Krešimir Bedek, guitar
Hommage à Tárrega, op. 69
Grand Sonata in C Major, Op. 22
Variations on a Theme by Sor, Op. 15a
Ivan Josip Skender:
Sonata Movement for Guitar (PREMIERE)
Sonata, op. 47
MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAMME:
Notes by Dina Puhovski
Spanish composer Joaquín Turina Pérez (Seville, 1882 – Madrid, 1949) studied music in Seville, Madrid and Paris, where his piano professor was Moritz Moszkowski, and composition professor Vincent d'Indy. Inspired by Isaac Albéniz to draw from the Spanish tradition in his composing, he often used his hometown and its music as an inspiration. He wrote works for piano, voice, chamber music and two operas. He was also a music critic.
Turina was one of the first composers commissioned by the legendary guitarist Andrés Segovia to write new, original contemporary works for guitar, thus contributing to creating a true musical treasure (Segovia occasionally revised the notes he received). He dedicated Homenaje a Tárrega, Op. 69, to guitarist and composer Francisco Tárrega, often referred to as ‘the father of classical guitar’ because he revived and popularised the instrument in the 19th century.
The first movement, Allegro, got its title, Garrotín, after the style of flamenco music originating from Asturias. Soleares, the title of the second, Allegro vivo movement, is plural for Soleá, one of the basic forms of flamenco, originally based on a twelve-beat pattern, out of which the 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12 are the strong beats.
Catalan composer and guitarist Fernando Sor (Joseph Fernando Macari Sors / Josep Ferran Sorts i Muntades, Barcelona, 1778 – Paris, 1839) received musical training at the choir school at Montserrat monastery, after which he attended military school in Barcelona. He worked as an administrator in Barcelona and Málaga, often travelling to Madrid, and wrote patriotic songs against the French in 1808. Later, however, he worked under the French government, which is why he had to leave the country after the French left; he moved to Paris and then London. In his youth, Sor composed symphonies, string quartets, boleros and seguidillas, for voice and guitar or piano. He staged four ballets in London, out of which Cendrillon was particularly successful.
Fernando Sor was a very successful concert guitarist who wrote over 65 works that remain an important part of the guitar repertoire. He is the author of a very influential textbook on guitar performance. He further developed Federico Moretti’s idea that full melody and accompaniment parts should be played on the guitar, not just chords, and his composing was influenced by Haydn and Mozart.
Sor started writing his Grand Sonata in four movements, Op. 22, in 1803 and published it in 1825 under the title El mérito (‘merit, virtue’). Here, he is also influenced by the syntax and style of Joseph Haydn, and perhaps Boccherini, and applies the classical movement scheme – fast, slow, minuet, fast. He dedicated the sonata to ‘the prince of peace’, which, in the original version, may have been a reference to Manuel Godoy, Prime Minister of Spain until 1808.
Miguel Llobet Solés (Barcelona, 1878 – 1938) had a successful career as a guitarist that took him on tours across Europe, Argentina, Chile and the USA. He studied under Francisco Tárrega, to whom the first piece on this evening’s programme is dedicated; Manuel de Falla wrote his Homenaje to Debussy specifically for Llobet. Llobet transcribed many classical and romantic pieces for one and two guitars, as well as Catalan folk songs, and wrote several original works for the guitar. For one of them, however, he used the existing work of one of the major guitar composers, also represented in this evening’s programme, Fernando Sor. He wrote Ten variations on a theme by Fernando Sor – in fact on his series of variations on an old theme, Folies d'Espagne – in 1908.
Mexican composer Manuel María Ponce (Fresnillo, 1882 – Mexico City, 1948) played the piano and organ since he was a child. He was an organist in Aguascalientes, and studied music in Mexico City, where he later taught piano, and then in Bologna and Berlin. He spent several years in Paris and studied with Paul Dukas. He started composing in the romantic style, and later turned to neoclassicism, composing songs, piano and guitar pieces, including two sonatinas. His ‘Estrellita’ is one of the most popular Latin American songs.
‘Why don’t you write a Sonatina – not Sonata – of a purely Spanish character?’ Andrés Segovia asked Ponce, ‘We can offer it to Schott, make it medium difficulty. Here are some Spanish themes, although you probably have enough.’ The titles of the movements of the resulting Sonatina Meridional are also Spanish in character, Campo is a village, field, province, Copla is a type of Spanish folk song, and Fiesta a celebration, festivity. In addition to performing demands, the piece requires the guitarist to tune the sixth string lower, to a D instead of E. Sonatina, on the border between folk music, neoclassicism, neo-romanticism and impressionism, was the last piece Ponce wrote for Segovia, in Paris, in 1932.
Ivan Josip Skender (Varaždin, 1981) began his studies in composition at the Zagreb Academy of Music under Željko Brkanović in 1997 as the youngest composition student in the history of the Academy. In 1999 he began his studies in conducting under Vjekoslav Šutej. He attended a two-year postgraduate course in orchestral conducting in Vienna with Uroš Lajovic. As a conductor, he is dedicated to performances and premieres of works of contemporary Croatian composers; in 2012 he was appointed permanent conductor by the members of the Cantus Ensemble, specialised in contemporary music. He served as choirmaster at the Opera of the Croatian National Theatre of Zagreb, then as conductor, and in the season 2013/14 as Acting Artistic Director. In 2009 he became an assistant to Professor Uroš Lajovic at the Zagreb Academy of Music, where he currently serves as Assistant Professor at the Department of Conducting, Percussion and Harp. He is a recipient of the Rudolf and Brigita Matz scholarship, the Rector’s Award for his work Heads and Tails, and the 2017 Stjepan Šulek Award for composition, for Phantasmagoria.
This evening’s audience will hear Skender’s new piece, Sonata Movement, commissioned by Krešimir Bedek, performed for the first time. The composer wrote that it is in fact the first movement of the planned Sonata for Guitar, in which he ‘is playing with the classical sonata form.’
One of the most important South American composers, Alberto Ginastera (Buenos Aires, 1916 – Geneva, 1983) studied music in his hometown, at the Conservatorio Williams, and, for a short period, in the USA with Aaron Copland. He wrote operas, ballets, orchestral music, concertos, cantatas, chamber music and incidental music. He composed in national style, and grouped his music into three periods: ‘Objective Nationalism’; in which he often used Argentine themes and rhythms in a straightforward fashion, ‘Subjective Nationalism’, in which he used traditional music in a more subtle manner, and ‘Neo-Expressionism’, in which he used serialism and other, more contemporary sounds and techniques, without a direct influence of folk elements.
He wrote Sonata, Op. 47, in his third period, in 1976, for guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima and later revised it twice. Until then, Ginastera refused to write for the guitar for a long time, considering it too difficult a task for someone who was not a guitarist. When Barbosa-Lima commissioned the work, Ginastera decided to write a sonata because it seemed to him that there were many short pieces for the guitar, and too few longer ones; therefore he chose a form with classical, although quite concise, movements. In addition to the usual playing demands, he added percussive elements and glissandi, as well as avoiding steady measure in the free flow of the Canto movement, and the diverse elements come together in the temperamental final rondo.
Photo (c) Nenad Šimunić