Danses de la terra (2020) for cello

Duration: 6′

Hidden Oaks Music Co. publisher

©Elisenda Fabregas

Danses de la terra for solo cello (2020) (6’) is a collection of dances inspired by Catalan folk music. It was written for Catalan cellist Roger Morelló Ross.

Pluja brodada (Embroidered rain) (2017/21) for Harp

Duration: 3’40”

Hidden Oaks Music Co. publisher

©Elisenda Fabregas

Pluja brodada was arranged and expanded from a song with the same name from the song cycle Imitacio del Foc (Imitation of fire) for tenor & piano.  It was arranged for Catalan harpist Ester Pinyol.

Duende for cello solo (2020)

Duende for solo cello (2020)  was premiered by Catalan cellist Roger Morelló Ros at the Chamber Music Series of Reus, Tarragona (Spain), 10/16/2020).

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company.

©2020 Elisenda Fabregas

Uphill: from Clara to Robert for vlc and piano (2021)

Duration 7’30”

Commissioned by Catalan cellist Roger Morelló Ross. Recording to be released on Austrian Gramophone in 2021. Hidden Oaks Music Company.

Uphill (from Clara to Robert) for cello and piano (2021), was written for Catalan cellist Roger Morelló Ros to accompany selected songs by Robert Schumann’s Spanische Liebeslieder Op. 138 in a forthcoming CD recording.

My inspiration to write this one movement work came from two sources. I was inspired by a poem by Pedro Padilla (16th century Spain) entitled “Sierra áspera…” used by R. Schumann. I tied this poem with Clara and Robert Schumann’s relationship. I took the side of Clara as the wife/caregiver of Robert Schumann and imagined her struggles and feelings. Besides her duties as a wife and emotional support to Robert Schumann’s, Clara was also the mother of eight children, pursued her own career as a pianist/composer and left us 66 compositions. She was regarded as one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, with over 61 years of concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital from displays of virtuosity to programs of serious works.

We know from her quotes that she felt insecure as a composer in a time when women were seen only as mothers and not fit to pursue creative endeavors such as writing music. There were no women composer models to be followed. A famous quote from Clara corroborates such feelings: “I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to composer – there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?”  Clara Schumann was a super woman doing it all, like many others during her time. This music is my way of honouring Clara Schumann.

©2021 Elisenda Fábregas

Masks for clarinet, cello, piano (2019/21)

Duration approx. 9′

Hidden Oaks Music Company pub. (available in the music store for purchase – printed or pdf download)

Masks for clarinet, cello and piano (2019/21) was commissioned by the IonSound Project Ensemble for their 2019 concert season and CD recording project.  The New York City premiere took place 2/11/20 by Random Access Music (RAM) Concert Series.

I was asked to write a relatively short composition inspired by certain aspects of the Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio. The title Masks suggests various layers of meaning in the music: I used motivic development procedures from the Classical period on rhythmic and/or melodic motives taken from or inspired by Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio, but I dressed the new melodies with harmonies and rhythms reminiscent of Spain’s music.

An edited version (2021) of Masks was done for performances in Catalunya in April 23-24, 2021

Looking in hindsight, this work and title it anticipated the covid-19 pandemia and the use of surgical masks. The original version of Masks was finished at the end of September 2019.

Movement I – Incantation and consummation – In the first movement of Masks, I start the first and second themes with the half-step beginning melodic motive of the first theme of Beethoven’s first movement, as well as tree-note ascending design. The motivic connection with Beethoven is very subtle in the first movement.

Movement II. Mischievous spirits – In the second movement of Masks, I took almost the entire rhythmic motive of the beginning theme of Beethoven’s 3rd movement. In addition, I varied the theme, although not in strict Variations like in the Beethoven. The spirit of the 2nd movement of Masks is also light and playful, just like the Beethoven.

 

Repartido entre tiempo y espacio for soprano, trumpet & piano (2016)

Repartido entre tiempo y espacio for soprano, trumpet & piano was commissioned and dedicated to Antoni Solé. The premiere took place in 2016 at Sala Sole Luthiers in Barcelona and was performed by soprano Margarita Natividade, and pianist Xavier Rivera.

This work is based on a poem in Spanish by Juan Eduardo Cirlot titled “A Osiris”.

Imitació del foc (Imitation of fire) for tenor & piano

  • Duration 12′
  • Poetry by Rosselló-Pòrcel (1913-1938) in Catalan
  • Commissioned by tenor Jess Muñoz,with generous support from a University of Delaware General University Research Grant.
  • Premiered on March 12, 2018, at the University of Delaware in a program dedicated to Catalonian and Latin American women composers.
  • This work was recorded on August 10-13, 2018, by Jess Muñoz, tenor, and pianist Oksana Glouchko, with producer/engineer Andreas Meyer and will be part of an album featuring 24 Art Songs by Catalan Composers of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Performance history

Text

Imitació del foc (Imitation of fire) for tenor & piano is a song cycle for tenor and piano based on four poems in Catalan by Bartomeu Rosselló-Pòrcel (1913-1938), a Spanish Balearic poet, who wrote in Catalan. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. He has a brief oeuvre but dense. His mature work, Imitation of fire (1938) turns him into the first Mallorcan poet who fully belongs to the twentieth century. Once the influence of the Mallorcan School has been overcome, the poetics of this last book are influenced by the generation of 1927, as well as by the avant-garde and specifically surrealism. There are also echoes of his interest in Spanish Baroque literature, along with a neo-populism similar to that of García Lorca or Rafael Alberti. In Rosselló-Pòrcel work is notable the presence of the symbol of fire, and related words, such as fire, flame, ash, charcoal burning and bonfires. The use of these symbol is not purely ornamental, but it reveals a deeper sense. The fire for Roselló-Porcell is purification, the struggle of opposites, light, life, rise, movement and perpetual change, immateriality and mastery. This vision of the fire connects Rosselló-Porcell directly with a pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus, who found in fire an overcoming of all processes of change that view reality.

The four poems selected in this song-cycle come from the collection Imitacio del foc and Quadern de sonets (an earlier work).

  1. Inici de campana (Bells start tolling) from Quadern de sonets, written in 1934
    This opening piece starts brilliantlly with tolling bell-like sounds calling for the parishioners. The spiritual symbol of church bells can be associated with the creative power, poetry and its followers. Rossello’s poem describes the poet in the evening hearing church bells and settlying at dusk into his home as a metaphor for internal search.
  2. Escolto la secreta…(I listen to the secret…) from Imitacio del Foc, Arbre de Flames). In this poem the poet explores the relation between himself and death when he “listens attentively to the secret harmony of the air and the ardor that trembles from great free waters.” The music is intimate and personal evoking the inner life and reflections of the poet.
  3. Pluja brodada (Embroidered rain) from Imitacio del foc, Fira encesa, written in 1938, is a poem in which the poet extols and personifies the rain, a natural element, in a precious manner, first reminding us of the sound of rain in a graphic manner. At the beginning of the poem the rain ‘dances’ joyously but little by little takes on a restless character. The music evokes the sound and moods of the rain; the tímbric sound on the rain is portrayed by sparkling arpeggios in the higher register of the piano.
  4. Ardent himne (Ardent hymn) from Imitacio del foc, Arbre de Flames, written in 1938. This poem states the dichotomy between the poet and the angel. The text is imbued with action and extraordinarily dynamic power, with fire contrasting with angels (‘homes alats’) and the night, portraying a vision of the world as a fight between contrary and opposite forces that need each other to exist.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company. 

Tiempo de amor, for soprano, tenor & piano (2015)

Duration 15′

Commissioned by the 2015 Barcelona Festival of Song and director/soprano Patricia Caicedo.

Premiered on June 27, 2015, by Patricia Caicedo, soprano, Lenine Santos, tenor, and Nikos Stavlas, piano.

Texts by Ibn Zaydun and Wallada (in Spanish)

Tiempo de amor (Time for Love) (2015) for soprano, tenor and piano is set to texts by Andalusi poet Ibn Zaydun (1003-1071) and princess Wallada (1011-1091). Both poets were born in Cordoba at the height of the Al-Andalous culture in Spain and were known as the lovers of Cordoba, due to their passionate love relationship. The text used in this work are fragments of the letters they wrote to each other, which have come to us through Wallada in the form of poems.

This song cycle includes six songs that are sung without a break. The tenor (Ibn Zaydun) and soprano (Wallada) sing alternate songs as if it were a dialogue, sometimes questioning each other or commenting on the state of their relationship. The text of the last song are the epitaphs written in a monument in Cordoba dedicated to them.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Co.

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

Homenatge a Pau Casals for cello (2015)

Homenatge à Pau Casals (Homage to Pau Casals) for cello, was commissioned by American cellist David James Kim, in occasion of its premiere at the ‘Mas i Mas Festival’ in Barcelona on August 7, 2015. In this solo cello work, I pay homage to Catalan cellist Pau Casals by using ‘El cant dels ocells’ (The song of the birds), an original traditional Catalan Christmas song popularized by Pau Casals himself that became internationally known as a symbol of peace and freedom. Throughout this homage, I use the beginning ascending scale of  ‘Cant dels ocells’ as a recurring motive embedded in the melodic structure. The tune in its entirety does not appear until the end as a symbol of hope for the future!