Accents Catalans for Symphony Orchestra (2016)

Duration: 12′

Commissioned by the Bucheon Philharmonic and Maestro Youngmin Park of South Korea

Premiered on April 10, 2016, at the Concert Hall of the Seoul Arts Center as part of the annual Orchestra Festival at SAC.

Accents Catalans (Catalan Accents) is an homage to my native Catalonia, an area in the North-East of Spain with its own language, music and dance, known for its great gastronomy, artistic personalities, and fiercely independent culture. In Accents Catalans I represent symbolically some indigenous traits (or accents) of Catalonia which inspired me to write this work. They are: 1) ‘playfulness’, represented by the joyful and spirited national dance, sardana; 2) ‘magical innocence’ exemplified in the purity of their children’s songs; 3) ‘longing and sadness’ present in the haunting folk songs; and 4) ‘quick mood changes’ from major (happy) to minor (sad) mode in much of the Catalonian traditional music. Another characteristic that greatly appeals to me is the spirituality that transpires in some of the older Catalonian songs, imbued with the ancient sound of medieval Gregorian chant.

All the above traits (or accents) can be found in the more overtly ‘Catalonian’ moments present in Accents Catalans. These include the beginning mountain call in the piccolo and the flute, referencing the song titled ‘Mountain shepherds’ (Els pastors de les muntanyes), accompanied by the Provençal tambourine. Variations of this ‘pastoral call’ reappear throughout the work in the woodwinds, either in its entirety or partially, acting as a musical question, which is answered by a new contrasting section. This mountain call and its variations connect much of the music in this work.

After the initial mountain call section, a new tune, syncopated and in major mode is introduced. This tune is initially played by the French horns and later the whole orchestra, eventually developed and combined with a rhythmic motive from the final dance (Dance of Castellterçol), leading to the Giocoso section. ‘The dance of barley” (El ball de la civada) is the main protagonist in this Giocoso section, set in a joyous major mode first with the brass and then the whole orchestra in a festive mood. Two variations of this tune, each time faster, lead to an exciting climax. Eventually an abrupt mood change returns with the mountain call and leading to the Moderato Cantabile. This is the center of gravity of the work featuring the tune “The little boy” (El petit vailet). This tune is a popular Catalonian sardana appearing first on the bass clarinet (f# minor) solo accompanied by the sardana rhythm () on the Provençal tambourine. The tune reappears dramatically in e minor with the full orchestra (Con passione) followed by several variations in triple rhythm. A later majestic entrance of the same tune in F# major occurs in the last section (Maestoso con spirito) played by the whole orchestra.

Before the final fast section, a timeless Incantato (enchanted) section featuring a Catalan tune “Dolls crying” (Les ninetes ploren) send us to a magical world with soft colors of woodwinds, wind chimes, harp, horns and strings. This is a dream world where time stops. But soon enough, the assertive final dance in minor blurts in, with driving syncopated rhythms, strong brass and full orchestra colors. This is based on the (Dance of Castellterçol) Dansa de Castellterçol. A couple of Playful sections in major mode change for a moment the mood to a child’s play before returning to the overtly rhythmical dance.

Accents Catalans is a one-movement work with three overall sections fast, slow, fast. The characteristic interval of perfect 4th (so prevalent in Catalonian music) is present in many of the selected tunes, including the initial introductory piccolo/flute call, unifying motivically this work. Rhythmic and melodic motives from all these Catalan folk songs above are used in its original form, as well as varied and developed, resulting in new material that connects the tightly knitted fabric.

Instrumentation

1 Piccolo (dedicated)

2 Flutes

2 Oboes

1 English Horn (dedicated)

2 Clarinets in B flat

1 Bass clarinet (dedicated)

2 Bassoons

4 French Horns

2 Trumpets B flat

2 Tenor Trombones

1 Bass Trombone

1 Tuba

4 Timpani (32”, 28”, 25”, 23”)

Percussion (4 percussionists)

(Provençal tambourine, snare drum, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, bass drum, triangle, cymbals, castanets, woodblocks, tambourine, wind chimes)

1 Harp

Violins I

Violins II

Violas

Cellos

Db. Basses

Triple Concerto for Piano Trio and Orchestra (2015)

Duration: 30′

Commissioned by Trio Nova Mundi

World Premiere by Trio Nova Mundi and the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra (ACSO), conducted by Juan R. Ramirez on February 8, 2015, Kopleff Recital Hall, Georgia State University, Atltanta, GA, U.S.A

YOUTUBE VIDEO of excerpts of the premiere

The Triple Concerto for Piano Trio and Orchestra by Elisenda Fábregas is a reflection on the state of coexistence among diverse populations of the world and an homage to the unique medieval culture of Al-Andalous in Spain, a culture in which three diverse populations – Arabs, Jews and Christians – coexisted harmoniously for almost eight centuries. Metaphorically, these three populations are represented by three soloists – sharing equally the limelight, interacting with each other, and dialoguing with the orchestra. There are three movements, each with a tripartite structure.

The first movement (Allegro moderato) features haunting harmonies and pleading melodic gestures evocative of flamenco, as well as an exciting cadenza-like passage for the three soloists in the center. The second movement starts and ends with a Pensaroso (Pensive) section that flanks an intense Appassionato and a triumphal section marked Con resoluzione. The third movement (Allegro deciso) is distinguished for its energy and rhythmic vitality, with an expressive and quasi-religious passage in the center played by the violin and the cello.

Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (2010)

Variaciones para Orquesta (1990)

Duration: 15′
Commissioned jointly by the Santa Fe Orchestra and the Maria Benitez Spanish Dance Company
World premiere by the Orchestra of Santa Fe conducted by William Kirschke and choreographed and danced by Maria Benitez at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe(5/12/90 and 5/13/90).

Terra Mater for Symphony Orchestra (2011)

Duration: 14′
Commissioned by the Wonju Philharmonic of South Korea
World premiere by the Wonju Philharmonic with Young-Min Park, Music Director and Conductor in Wonju, South Korea (10/20/2011).

YOUTUBE VIDEO of Premiere

Terra Mater is a compact one movement dramatic work for symphony orchestra (approx. 10′) that deals symbolically with the creative and destructive powers of nature.

Terra Mater follows the footsteps of Voices of the Rainforest (2007), another work dealing with nature. However the content and gestures of Terra Mater have a deeper sense of urgency. I have always felt that the earth is an organism just like we are, and as such it deserves our respect. If we fail to take care of the earth it may lead to our own destruction. Beneath the dramatic gestures of Terra Mater there is an underlying and compelling lament that surfaces at crucial points of the piece connecting the various strains and providing structure. I have wanted to write an orchestral work on this topic for long time and I welcome this opportunity with excitement. The recent weather events in all parts of the world make nature a ‘hot’ topic and I am eager to make a contribution in musical terms. I live now in Seoul and last summer I had the chance to experience the Asian monsoon season; it was apparently one of the hottest and rainiest summers on record in Seoul. This extreme Korean weather reminded me of the Texas summer storms at most violent. To me there is nothing more awesome and overwhelming than the power of nature. I can understand how ealier civilizations, much more connected with nature than we are, worshipped many elements of the physical world with its capacity to create and destroy.

 

Bonna Domna for string orchestra and SSAATTBB Choir (2001/04)

Duration: 8’30”
Choir with string orchestra version of the 2001 Bonna Domna a capella choral piece commissioned by the Dale Warland Singers.