Coloured minds (2022) for piano

Coloured minds (2022) for piano was commissioned by and dedicated to Jaeden Izik-Dzurko, a 23 year old Canadian pianist first prize winner of the 2022 Maria Canals Piano Competition, 2022 Santander Paloma O’Shea, and 2022 Hilton Head Piano Competition.

World Premiere on June 8, 2023, Ruhr Piano festival in Essen, Germany by Jaeden Izik-Dzurko

Spanish premiere on June 14, 2023, at Auditorio Nacional de Musica de Madrid by Jaeden Izik-Dzurko

Program notes:

After listening to Jaeden’s version of my composition Portraits I at the Canals competition, I became captivated by his colourful and multidimensional playing, as well as the sincerity of all his performances. Although Canadian, Jaeden’s family background is Hungarian and Ukrainian, and we both have some common interests in color (timbre), light (harmonic contrasts), intervallic distance and geometry, melodic and rhythmic motives, and musical polyphony.

Coloured minds is then the product of a kind of meeting of the minds. Being a Spanish-Catalan by birth, I have always been interested in color and light (I used to paint and draw) and I think visually and geometrically, including in music. I am especially sensitive to intervals and their directional tendencies, horizontally and vertically. Coloured minds incorporates a high level of interaction between right and left hand, harmonic and register (timbre) changes, motivic development, spaced out intervals and chords, and polyphony.

Structurally, I used a modified sonata-allegro form that feels as such from the emotional and psychological relieve that the music brings, and not coming from a traditional use of key signatures. For example, the recapitulation brings back the calmness and comfort of the initial exposition theme and feels like coming home after the restlessness of the development, which is not about fighting themes or fragments of themes, but more of a sensation of being away from home. The second theme is almost like a memory in the recap but in a simpler harmonic language sounding more major and optimistic, as if providing resolution. The emphasis at the end (and the coda) is on the wide spaced intervallic motive which I took from Image (from Portraits) and was one of my favourites as well as Jaeden. This motive is very important in the whole piece. In general, all the motives I use help to create and determine the structure of the piece.

© Hidden Oaks Music Company published. Available for sale after the premiere in June 2023.

Jaeden Izik-Dzurko performed Portraits (mov. IV-V), Festival Musica Albeniz, Camprodon, August 7, 19:00.

Jaeden Izik-Dzurko, First Prize Winner of the 2022 Paloma O’Shea santander Piano competition and the 2022 Maria Casals International Piano Competition,  performed a solo recital at the Festival de Musica Albeniz 2022 on August 7, 19:00, at the Monestir San Pere in Camprodon (Gerona, Spain). Jaeden included Portraits I (movs. IV-V) in his recital, the same music he performed during the second round of the Maria Canals Piano Competition.

 

Amalia Tortajada, flute, & Andrea Gonzalez, guitar (Identidade project) performed Goyescas at the Serenades Festival in Valencia, June 29, 22:00

Uphill: from Clara to Robert for cello & piano – Roger Morelló Ros, cello, & Anna Khomichkho, piano. Premiere and concerts in Germany & Spain, 2022-23

Uphill: from Clara to Robert for cello & piano (2021) was written for and dedicated to the Duo of cellist Roger Morelló Ros and pianist Anna KhomichkhoUphill was inspired by a 16th century poem of Pedro Padilla, and also inspired by Clara’s feelings over her caring of Robert and the interruption of her composing activities.

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 honoring Clara Schumann.

©2021 Elisenda Fábregas

 

 

Sonata for flute & piano (1995) released on Odradek, on June 3, 2022. Recorded by Roberto Alvarez and Kseniia Vokhmianina

Sonata for flute and piano was written in 1995 for the late Tallon Perkes, first flutist of the San Antonio Symphony. I had the pleasure to work and perform with him in various occasions. This sonata was written and dedicated to him. It is very exciting to finally have a recording that does justice to this virtuosic composition.  Singapore based Spanish flutist Robert Alvarez and Ukranian pianist Kseniia Vokhmianina did a superb recording last year. In this challenging Sonata in which the piano is an equal partner with the flute, Roberto and Kseniia both exhibit a superlative musicianship and extraordinary technical mastery. The title of the CD is “The Whirldwind Whithin.” 

This is my own review of their recording: “Both performers clearly understood the spirit of the music and were able to bring it out with extraordinary musical confidence and precise technique.  They are both perfectly synchronized as an ensemble and demonstrated an amazing flexibility, changing quickly and convincingly among contrasting moods – from strong and energetic moods in the first and 4th movements, to a playful interaction in the Scherzo, and to the poetic, dreamy and mysterious 2nd movement.  The ensemble dynamics are also perfectly well balanced, especially in passages where the flute and the piano are in a kind of dialogue, responding to each other.  Alvarez plays with perfect intonation, tremendous clarity of articulation and control of dynamics. In the second ‘dreamy ‘movement, Alvarez shows his sensitivity and musicality in the beautiful quality of his tone and well-balanced phrasing. Kseniia is a great partner for Roberto, with absolute technical mastery of the keyboard, rhythmic and dynamic control, and showing an innate musicality. Her playing of the difficult last movement was most impressive, both technically and musically. In the last movement, both show their superlative technical mastery while always staying at the service of music and showing great musical understanding.”

Other works in this recording are also first time recordings and include works by Mike Mower, James Rae, Daniel Sánchez Velasco, José Elizondo, Gonzalo Casielles and Pablo Aguirre. The sonata has four movements and is published by Alphonse Leduc & Cie.   The recording of this Sonata will be released on June 3, 2022 during “The Whirlwind Tour” in Europe, with concerts in Madrid, Italy, Mallorca, and Zurich among others.

‘Parlen les dones’ for mezzo, SATB Choir and Orchestra – El Cor Canta, March 5, 12:00, 2023 – L’ Auditori de Barcelona

  • Parlen les dones (Women speak) for mezzo, SATB choir, and chamber orchestra, has been commissioned by the El Cor Canta, based on four poems by Catalan author Montserrat Abelló. The group El Cor Canta consists of 150 amateur singers that work with various professional chamber orchestras and soloists, conducted by Elisenda Carrasco i Eva Martínez. The premiere of “Parlen les dones” will take place on March 5, 2023 at 12:00, at L’Auditori of Barcelona as well as three other performances in various Auditoris (Concert Halls) in Catalunya. Other details about the chamber orchestra and the mezzo will be announced later.

‘Castell de Miravet’ for Cobla (Memorial Joaquim Serra) commissioned by Agrupació Folklorica Barcelona and Musics per la Cobla. Premiere on November 21, 2022, 19:00

  • The Agrupació Cultural Folklòrica Barcelona in collaboration with Músics per la Cobla has commissioned a new work for the Memorial Joaquim Serra 2022. Titled Castell de Miravet, this new work will celebrate the hundred years anniversary of Agrupació Cultural Folklòrica Barcelona at the premiere on November 21, 2022, 19:00. It will premiered by Cobla San Jordi-ciutat de Barcelona conducted by Marcel Sabaté at Casino de l’Aliança del Poblenou (Barcelona). Castell de Mirabet was recorded on June 29, 2022, on CD and available at the premiere in November 2022. 

 

“Accents Catalans” Spain premiere, San Cugat Symphonic Orchestra, March 11 & 20, 2022

The San Cugat Symphonic Orchestra under the direction of Salvador Brotons will perform the  Spanish/Catalan premiere of Accents Catalans (2016) for orchestra on March 11, 2022, at the Teatre-Auditori, San Cugat del Valles; and on March 20, 2022, at the Teatre La Massa, Vilasar de Dalt.

Accents Catalans for Symphony Orchestra (2016) was commissioned by The Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, who under the direction of Youngmin Park, performed the World premiere at the Concert Hall, Seoul Arts Center Orchestra Festival, South Korea, on April 10, 2016. Video of premiere.

The score and parts of Accents Catalans are available for hire at Hofmeister MusicVerlag http://www.hofmeister-musikverlag.com

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.

“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.

‘Danses de la terra’ (Catalan danses) for cello premiere (PRIVATE CONCERT) by Roger Morelló Ros at Palau Güell in Barcelona, October 28, 2021.

Danses de la terra (2020) (Catalan dances) for solo cello was written for Catalan cellist Roger Morello Ros. He will premiere this work at Palau Güell in Barcelona on October 28, 2021.

Danses de la terra was written for Morello and consists of four dances:

  • I. Ball d’entrada (Opening dance);
  • II. Dansa de rondalla amorosa (Dance of amorous tale);
  • III. Ball ceremonial de purificació (Ceremonial dance of purification);
  • IV. Records de sardana (Memories of sardana).

Although not literally based on traditional Catalan music, this work is inspired by the composer’s childhood memories of Catalonian dances and folk music. As a Catalan living outside Catalonia since 1978, the author recreates a Catalan sound world of melodic and rhythmic folk idioms tinged with emotions from her childhood. This concert will also include other solo cello works by Catalan composers such as Albert Sardà, Josep Maria Guix, and Gaspar Cassadó.

‘Accents Catalans’, USA premiere by The Florida Orchestra, February, 23, 2022, Clearwater, FL

The Florida Orchestra under the directions of Stuart Malina will perform the American premiere of Accents Catalans (2016) for orchestra -23 February 2022  at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL USA.

Accents Catalans for Symphony Orchestra (2016) was commissioned by The Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, who under the direction of Youngmin Park, performed the World premiere at the Concert Hall, Seoul Arts Center Orchestra Festival, South Korea, on April 10, 2016. Video of premiere.

The score and parts of Accents Catalans are available for hire at Hofmeister MusicVerlag http://www.hofmeister-musikverlag.com

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.

“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.