Clear Note recently published Gregg’s fine arrangement of the Turina Quartet in A Minor. You can find the music here.
QUARTET IN A MINOR, Op. 67a (1931) (Violin, Viola, Cello, Guitar)
Lento – Andante mosso
Andante – Allegretto
The opening passages of the Quartet in A minor, Op 67a, (here with the piano being replaced and adapted for guitar by Gregg Nestor), immediately announce an essential foundational element of Turina’s music. These melodic passages are constrained and mysterious, but distinctly Andalusian. They hearken to the ancient cante jondo, the serious ‘deep song’ of southern Spain, and become building blocks for the entire structure, appearing in the second and third movements as well, and thus giving the work a cyclical form. In another direct reference to folk music, passages of the second movement feature repeated chords and pizzicato in the strings which both allude to the guitar.
JOAQUÍN TURINA (1882-1949)
Joaquín Turina’s successful synthesis of the early-twentieth-century French School and Andalusian folklore, embodied in the classical genres of chamber music, was no small feat. As a Spanish composer seeking to express his national identity through chamber music, he had very few precedents to emulate. Falla and Albéniz advised Turina to embrace his heritage as an Andalusian musician. Albéniz is reported to have said: You must base your art on Spanish popular song, on Andalusian music, because you are from Seville. In later years Turina would recall this conversation saying: Those words were decisive for me, [and] they are a piece of advice that I have tried to follow throughout my career.
The result of this encounter with Albéniz and Falla was an outpouring of music that established Turina as one of the outstanding Spanish composers of the early twentieth century. Nearly all of his works bore allusions to Spain, and more specifically to Andalusia.
Gabriel Urbain Fauré (1845-1924) was one of the great composers of French song who perfected the mélodie as a true art song form. He created an extraordinary range of songs, all original in conception and constantly developing in style, extending the musical parameters of French song and inspiring new techniques of vocal composition. Fauré’s lyrical songs translate beautifully into instrumental music and are arranged here by Gregg Nestor for cello and guitar. The score plus parts and an audio download are available here.
Le Papillon et la Fleur was, in fact, Fauré’s first published composition – composed, in his words – “in the school dining hall amid the smells of the kitchen,” – and is one of the composer’s most simple and direct mélodies.
Aprés un Réve is one of Fauré’s best-known and most beguiling works. The work depicts a dream in which the narrator and her beloved come together in an almost unworldly meeting, followed by a longing to return to this dream state after awakening.
In Au Bord de l’Eau both the cello and guitar accompaniment evoke flowing water, with gentle arpeggios suggesting ripples on the water. Occasionally the melodic focus is passed from cellist to accompaniment amongst shifts between minor and major modes.
In Dans les Ruines d’une Abbaye the music juxtaposes a young newly married couple amid the ruins of an abbey, two near-opposites. The tune is as light as the mood of the newlyweds the song depicts, with simple rippling accompaniment on the guitar.
Gregg has arranged a lovely set of the lesser-known songs of Albéniz called Rimas de Bécquer for voice and guitar as well as for violin and guitar and cello and guitar. These songs are based on poems of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. Clear Note has published the scores for all three settings and they are available using the above links.
I. Besa el aura que gime blandamente
II. Del salón en el ángulo oscuro
III. Me ha herido recatándose en las sombras
IV. Cuando sobre el pecho inclinas
V. ¿De dónde vengo? El más horrible y áspero
Isaac Albéniz’s (1860-1909) name immediately conjures up his piano masterpiece Iberia and various works that have met their success in fine transcriptions for guitar and that are a staple of the repertoire for the instrument. But sprinkled through his tremendously active career as a composer and piano virtuoso, ensemble musician, conductor, impresario and piano teacher are his songs – over thirty of them!
These songs show a different side of the composer. More carefully considered than familiar light-weight salon pieces, they display a greater sensitivity and attention to detail.
The Rimas de Bécquer (Rhymes of Bécquer) (1885), like the poems themselves, are succinct works (the longest does not exceed thirty-three measures). The repeated rocking motion in the accompaniment of the first song, for example, characterizes the motion of the waves, while the frenetic arpeggiations in the last song dramatize the narrator’s extreme agitation.
Together, these early jewels mirror in microcosm the development of his unique voice and style in masterworks that were to come and that tie him as a major musical icon in the Spanish Nationalist style.