“Voices of the rainforest give an imaginative and fantastic musical representation of live in the rainforest. If you close your eyes you felt as if you were in the jungle amid knocking, rustling noises, chirping birds and murmuring waters. But if you opened your eyes again, you didn’t see neither wild animal nor creepers, but three musicians, which evoked incredible sounds from their instruments creating an extraordinary atmosphere. The Meininger-Trio transformed the concert hall into a jungle and […] flutist Christiane Meininger’s performance was often full of forceful wind noises in such a way that her instrument sounded like a bamboo flute. Her fabulous breathing techniques allowed her to do enormous variations of sound. Françoise Groben, too – who was particularly captivated by and immersed into the music – was brilliant in her playing with a huge variety of sounds: not only she performed different types of pizzicati and col legno but produced extremely rich overtones close to the bridge. Pianist Rainer Gepp added percussive sounds and atmospheric hustling and bustling sounds. A simultaneous presentation of images from life in the rainforest – colorful birds, flowers, poisonous green frogs and snakes – together with the music provided indeed a very lively portrait.”
New Directions: “The Inspirational Lorca”
“The poetry of Federico Garcˆ‚a Lorca has stimulated numerous contemporary composers to write memorable works. Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children, Madrigals, and Night of the Four Moons are prominent examples of how highly symbolic poetry with multiple meanings can inspire unique and significant musical responses. In like manner, Lorca’s texts have moved Elisenda Fˆ°bregas and David Burge to write intriguing song cycles that capture the highly symbolic and sometimes ambiguous qualities of this poetry.
Elisenda Fˆ°bregas is a concert pianist who also teaches and composes music for orchestra, piano, chamber ensemble, and voice. Born in Spain in 1955, she received the DMA at Barcelona Conservatory, later coming to the United States on a Fulbright fellowship, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Juilliard and a doctorate in music education at Columbia Teacher’s College. As a pianist, she has concertized in Europe, Asia, and North America. As a composer, numerous important commissions have brought her works to prominence.
Fˆ°bregas’s Five Songs for Soprano and Piano (1986) was written for Rachel Rosales and premiered in New York in 1988 by Ms. Rosales and the composer. The poems, “El silencio” (The Silence), “La luna negra” (The black moon), “Las seis cuerdas” (The six strings), and “Clamor” (Clamor), are taken from the collection Poema del Cante Jondo (1921), and “La mano imposible” (The impossible hand) is fron El Diwˆ°n del tamarit (1931-35). Fˆ°bregas’s program notes for the cycle state that “Lorca’s poetry is born from the continuous juxtaposition of contrasting and opposing symbols which attempt to negate each other. His obsession with death, which he referred as the ‘Spanish lover’, also pervades his work.”
The composer’s compositional style is flexible and tonal with modal tendencies. While she uses chromaticism, syncopation, and meter shifts to symbolize anxiety, she is capable of a beautiful, peaceful consonance when the text requires it. Melodic dissonance in both the vocal line and the piano writing also is used to portray anguish in the texts. At times a tonal center is difficult to discern, but tonal ambiguity is used only to depict the floating, magical quality of the poetry. Each of the five songs has a specific color, using tempo, vocal range, and accompanying techniques such as trills, to portray distinct sentiments in the texts. This composer writes beautifully for the soprano voice, staying within a range of B3, to high C6. She uses the low register to represent the darkness in the text, while allowing the voice to soar to high notes for exuberant or delicate moments. The singer must be able to control the upper range in both forceful and subtle contexts to bring these pieces of with ease. There are no extended techniques used here, just expressive long lines and gorgeous lyricism, contrasted by occasional recitative. The piano provides melodic and rhytmic contrast with occasional extended interludes that comment symbolically on the character of the text. This cycle is edited by Ruth Friedberg and is available from Southern Music Co., San Antonio, TX 78209. It is Volume 12 of the Art Songs by American Women Composers series.”
Paragraph on David Burge and then article ends by saying:
“Each of these cycles will be a joy to perform for both singer and pianist. They are substantial works and can stand alone on a recital or other venue, but would work well together if two or more singers were planning a program that centers on the use of texts by Lorca. The range of each piece is such that the two could rarely be sung by the same voice. Each cycle offers intellectual and musical properties that would best be delivered by a moderately advanced or advanced singer. Check these out and get inspired by Lorca!
Sonata No. 1 pour Flute et Piano by Elisenda Fˆ°bregas
Publisher: Alphonse Leduc & Cie. (Editions Musicales, 175 rue Saint-Honore, 75040 Paris Cedex 01), 2001. 43pp. $42.95.
“A stunning new work for flute and piano, this sonata is an exciting addition to the contemporary repertoire. Although published in France and first performed in China, the work was composed in the United States. Tallon Perkes, principal flutist of the San Antonio (Texas) Symphony, commissioned the sonata and performed it at the 1996 convention of the National Flute Association. The composer, Spanish-born Elisenda Fabregas, is a member of the piano faculty at the University of Texas in San Antonio and is MTNA’s Distinguished Composer of the Year, 2000. This is a major work of four movements and fifteen minutes’ duration, requiring careful study and precise coordination between flute and piano. The first movement, Allegro, features rapid, energetic tonguing on the flute, punctuated by slightly acidic harmonies from the piano. A haunting, rather mournful melody, characterized by descending minor second intervals, glides through the second movement (Largo). The playful Scherzo, the third movement, is like a rhythmic game of tag dancing between piano and flute. And the finale, Allegro molto con brio, is an athletic “tour de force” for both flutist and pianist. Rapid triplets permeate the movement, ending the work with a flourish. Although difficult, the music is written idiomatically for both instruments–the flute part is “flutistic” and the piano part “pianistic.” Dissonant harmonies prevail, but no extended techniques are required. The composer has a marvelous sense of progression and development, providing each of the four movements with a pleasing architectural structure and shape.”
Meininger-Trio in the Berufsgenossenschaftliche Accademy
“The powerful voices of the night”
“The cellist didn’t stroke, but caress her cello. With her first chords Francoise Groben created a dance-like settling into the composition VOCES DE MI TIERRA, Christiane Meininger’s flute flow into and Rainer Gepp on the piano very tenderly underlined the image of cheerfulness, which later on should be mingled with the urgent and powerful voices of the night and end in a brilliant Gigue, in which the flute corresponded with the cello into Rainer Gepp’s ‘breakneck’ speed. Exclusively for the Meininger-Trio Spanish composer Elisenda Fˆ°bregas had written her piece in four movements.”
Meininger -Trio at Meersburg, International Festival of Lake Constance
“A sensitive Meininger-Trio”
….”Together with the Meininger-Trio’s highly accomplished performance skills and overall sensitivity the world premiere of Elisenda Fˆ°bregas’ Voces de mi tierra could only be a magnificent, highly acclaimed success.”
(Broadcast by SWR radio at the New Castle in Meersburg (Bodensee International Music Festival).
“Concert proves composer’s skill”
“It must have been karma. That explains why, after everything was in place for Sunday’s concert of music by Elisenda Fábregas at Our Lady of the Lake University, word came that she had achieved national recognition.”
Last week, the Spanish-born pianist/composer was notified that she will receive the Music Teachers National Association’s 2000 Shepherd Distinguished Composer Award. Her winning composition, “Portraits I” for solo piano, will be performed next month at the organization’s national convention in Washington, D.C. “Proof of her skill and versatility was evident in Sunday’s concert, a potpourri of old and new Fábregas works that explore a wide vocabulary of expression and style. At its center was the premiere of”Evocation and Dance’ for shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and guitar…Much of the shakuhachi material in this charming score employs traditional playing techniques, but the tonality and essences are Western. In the first movement, languid flute melodies tinged with unique ornamentation float above delicate, contrapuntal writing passagework. The delightful second movement involves shifting rhythms and flavors, or phrases that are pingponged or mirrored between the musicians”….”Her well-crafted, impassioned scoring (and piano accompaniment) [Five Songs of Garcia Lorca for Soprano and Piano] perfectly reflects the wrenching text by Federico Garcia Lorca.” …”The ‘piece de resistance’ was a polished, eloquent repeat performance of a favorite Fábregas score: “Portraits II (2000) by SOLI Chamber Ensemble.”
” Its tonal harmony, traditional forms and romantic sensibility mark ‘Portraits II’ as conservative, but the composer’s individuality shows through in yearning dissonances, quirky juxtapositions of thematic material and a pervasive sensuality not unlike that of her native Barcelona.” San Antonio Express-News (SOLI Chamber Ensemble, premiere performance at Ruth Taylor Hall, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, January 18, 2000).”Its tonal harmony, traditional forms and romantic sensibility mark ‘Portraits II’ as conservative, but the composer’s individuality shows through in yearning dissonances, quirky juxtapositions of thematic material and a pervasive sensuality not unlike that of her native Barcelona.”
“…[Mirage] makes equal demands on a pianist’s pyrotechnics, lyricism and sense of form. The style is rooted in the highly decorated tonal atmospherics of Scriabin, Ravel and, especially, Liszt…”
“Fabregas’s idiom here [Five Songs of Garcia Lorca for Soprano and Piano ] is a sinuous and erotic free tonality, influenced a bit by Ravel and a bit by Schoenberg, but altogether fetching.”
“[Fábregas’ flute sonata] was notable in its sturdy and arresting generative themes.”
“The best piece here [in the program] was the last, Elisenda Fábregas’ very moving, elegiac Sonata No. 1 for violin and piano (1994)…the second movement is especially moving.”
” Her brand-newViolin and Piano Sonata has motoric, muscular, exciting fast movements flanking an intensely lyrical, neo-romantic Elegy. …Fábregas likes to make a whole movement grow from a single motivic seed.”
“(Ms. Fábregas) writes with an imaginatively colored tonal idiom.”
“[Variaciones para Orquesta has a] rhythmic and dramatic profile…” “…Fábregas possesses a distinct musical voice”.
“This (Variaciones para Orquesta ) is music of significance – melodious, tuneful and well-orchestrated, with an emotionally compelling aura about it.”
“… complex and haunting.”
Piano Performance Reviews
“Ms. Fábregas has a fluid technique and a poet’s command of musical shading. She opened her program with brightly bouncing performances of two Soler sonatas … Three selections from Albeniz’s Iberia were exemplary: sultry but never indolent. And Miss Fábregas brought an insistent vitality to four sharp, sinuous compositions by Manuel de Falla.”
“(Ms. Fábregas) played with winning vividness.”
“…throughout the Spanish portions of her program, which also included two sonatas by Padre Antonio Soler and works by Enrique Granados, Fábregas displayed an instinctual feeling for the distinct rhythmic atmosphere of Spanish music, along with firm punctuation and ample agility”.
“In Federico Mompou’s lovely, delicate, impressionistic “Scenes of Infants,” Fábregas had a wonderful way of playing freely with the line and tempo while maintaining the vitality”.
“… it was in the last and most difficult of Beethoven’s sonatas, the Op. 111, that Ms. Fábregas showed her great musicianship… In this sonata, Ms. Fábregas proved that she is a great performer.”