(Sept. 14, 2021, 5:30 PM at CMMB)
Lecture on “the Concert Guitar construction” by SANTIAGO CANALS
The construction of a Concert Guitar follows a chain of processes where the sound target is that leads us to develop different types of research in which each part of the instrument is expression of the luthier’s research and the guitarist’s feeling and awareness. For this reason, it is important and necessary that luthier and guitarist have an interchange of ideas. This conference will develop themes related to the construction and evolution of the guitar from those ones used by Ferran Sor to the present day.
Santiago Canals began his guitar studies with Ricardo Gonzalez Longo and lutherie with Reno Rios, both will guide and support him throughout his academic studies.
In 1996 he entered the Faculty of Fine Arts of the UNLP, where he obtained the Bachelor of Music in Guita, in 2002, and the Master Degree, in 2003. At the same time of his studies, he continued to develop his experience in different luthier workshops.
In 2000, he was granted with a scholarship by the Embassy of Spain to attend the International Course of Interpretation in Spanish music “Music in Compostela”.
When he finished his university studies, in 2003, he was awarded by the “Carolina Foundation” to perform the “Postgraduate Course in Musical Training” at the Liceu Conservatory in Barcelona, and, in this city, he graduated as a Luthier, together with Maria Cecilia Saenz Rols, in the workshops of Don Raúl Yague Diez and Juan Antonio Reyes Torres.
In 2003, Santiago Canals and María Cecilia Saenz Rols inaugurated the guitar workshop “Santiago de Cecilia”, approaching modern techniques but always at the service of the classical concert guitar’s warm tone. The workshop is located inside the Poble Espanyol of Barcelona.
Due to his extensive experience in guitar construction courses, in 2016, Santiago Canals was selected by the Spanish Ministry of Education to join the group of instructors who will develop the study plan for the luthier career.
(Sept. 16, 2021, 5:30 PM at CMMB)
Lecture on Fernando Sor by JAUME TORRENT
“Fernando Sor. The integration of the guitar in the world of cultured music.”
Fernando Sor’s guitar work is considered the most important in all time. However, from the current perspective and as one who looks at the guitar music history from the moment his literature appears to our days, many of the contents of Sor’s work are isolated, despite the importance – and of the transcendent potential- of the innovative ideas it contains in comparison with those of the works of its predecessors and contemporaries. Many of these contents were not incorporated into the lexicon of the most prominent later composers, who, far from seeing them as platforms for the construction of new instrumental motifs that allowed them to assimilate the emerging musical proposals, would return to the use of the idiomatic motifs of the preceding tradition hindering the immersion of the guitar in the flow of stylistic contributions that would best define musical romanticism.
Over the years, the study of Sor’s work -whether to incorporate them into my repertoire or, simply, to enter in his musical world with no intention other than to enjoy it – has led me to raise a series of questions related to ideas that might have boosted his creative ability. In broad outline, these ideas could have revolved around intentions such as: transferring instrumental motives from the keyboard to the guitar, transcending the stereotyped guitarist motifs of the time, bringing the polyphonic writing of the guitar to the limit of its possibilities, endowing the guitarist writing of an unusual drama until then, to assume the great forms overcoming the limitations to the thematic development that imposes the guitar or to try to use as many tonalities as possible. All this constitutes a set of inherent challenges to a restless personality and creator who, based on the love that Sor felt for the instrument, was fruitful in an immense innovative work whose formal, technical and expressive dimensions are hardly comparable to that of any other composer of the history of the guitar.
The objective of this lecture is to discuss some of these aspects that, supposedly, could have been behind the compositional talent of Fernando Sor.
Jaume Torrent epitomizes the composer-performer, an emblematic figure in the guitar world from the Classical period until the early 20th Century. His catalogue of compositions as well as his contributions to the advancement of guitar technique are both numerous and of transcendent importance.
Jaume Torrent is the first composer in the history of the guitar who has developed a polyphonic musical style that is both organic and functional in tonalities such as A flat Major, C Sharp Major, E Flat Major, F Sharp Major, etc. (tonalities which have traditionally been considered as inappropriate for the guitar). His 24 Fantasías, written in all Major and minor keys, and his 8 Sonatas represent a unique contribution to the guitar repertoires due to their harmonic variety, modulations and formal structure. Vladimir Mikulka states: «…these works for the guitar follow compositional paths which, until now, were only found in the piano literature of the great composers. For guitarists, the scope of his achievements make his compositions some of the most important works in our repertoire». Jaume Torrent has composed more than 200 works for guitar which have been published by important publishers. These works are grouped into approximately 80 opus numbers which include guitar solos (Waltzes, Sonatas, Intermezzos, Suites, Songs, etc.), chamber music with guitar (Duets, Trios and Quintets) and Concertos for guitar, guitar and violin or guitar and flute and orchestra. His Concierto de Rialp for guitar and symphonic orchestra, Op. 70 is considered as “one of the best Concertos for guitar written until the present which can rival the great Concertos written by such important composers as Joaquín Rodrigo, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Leo Brouwer or Lalo Schifrin, among others”. This opinion is shared by authoritative figures of the guitar world, musicologists, conductors and composers such as Ángelo Gilardino, Patricio Mátteri, Henri Jul Hansen, Jordi Cervelló, etc.
Along with his work as a composer, Jaume Torrent has developed a new guitar technique based on the systematic use of certain mechanical aspects of guitar technique which, until now, had not even been considered as possible. His innovations include: extension of the left hand, anticipations, etc. With this new guitar technique Jaume Torrent is able to achieve a sonic projection far superior to that which is possible using traditional guitar technique. Furthermore, his technique improves the clarity and possibilities for dynamic contrasts both of which allow the guitar to be included in larger chamber music ensembles and orchestras than was previously possible. In addition this technique makes it possible to use all major and minor tonalities and permits a far greater range of expression.
He is a regular performer on the international scene and has performed as soloist with prestigious European and American orchestras such as The Paris Symphonic Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra, the RAI Symphonic Orchestra, Dresdner Philharmonie, National Orchestra of Ucrania Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra, Bilkent Symphony of Bulgarian Radio, the R.T.V. of Luxemburg, the American Wind Symphony, Symphony of Bursa, Westcoast Symphony, Sinfónica de Valencia, etc.. He has performed with important conductors such as Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Phillipe Entremont, E. García Asensio, Kurt Masur, H. Pensis, R. Austin Boudreau, M. Natchev, D. Tosi, M. Galduf, I. Palkin, G. Aykal, and E. van Tiel. In 2004 he was awarded the Golden Fortune Prize in Ucrania in recognition of his outstanding career. In March, 2012 he performed as soloist in four of his own Concertos for guitar and orchestra in the International Festival “Prospectives XXIIè siècle” in France. This was the first time in history that a guitarist-composer has ever performed four of his own Concertos in one program. Later that year, in October, 2012 he recorded his Concierto de Rialp with the Polish Baltic Philharmonic conducted by Ernst van Tiel.
(Sept. 17, 2021, 5:30 PM at CMMB)
Lecture by XAVIER RIVERA & MARGARIDA NATIVIDADE
“Mr. Sor goes to London.
1815 – 1830 or the journey of “Bel canto” out of Italy.
Margarida Codina Natividade, soprano
Xavier Rivera, Clementi pianoforte of 1808
In 1815 the development of the British Empire takes hold, which will see in the following years the conquest of the American “far west” and the expansion of its East India Company, thus achieving the British monarchy to progressively control a considerable part of the world trade and its revenues, of course, as a consequence of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo on June 18 of that year. It is not surprising that the fervent liberal and Frenchified Macari Ferdinand Joseph Sor, who had been clearly in favor of Joseph Bonaparte and shared his journey into exile to Paris, moved to London in that year, probably hoping for a somewhat warmer and, above all, more successful welcome than the one he got in Paris between 1813 and 1815.
From the moment I first held the scores of Sor’s Ariette Italiane in my hands, I was assailed by an almost piercing question: how is it possible that a musical corpus of this importance, published with great success in Paris and London and relatively easily accessible in public libraries, has remained virtually unknown to the musical public for nearly two hundred years?
Almost twenty years later, I am still as perplexed as the first day, but some reflections come to mind that I would like to share and that could partially explain such oblivion, but I confess that I am unable to find a plausible answer. We can evoke weighty reasons, such as Sor’s exile in Paris, London and St. Petersburg successively. And, as it was published during his lifetime but never reprinted after his death, it could easily fall into oblivion. Or the idea of reprisals towards an “afrancesado” considered as a “hateful” liberal by the monarchy of Ferdinand VII and its more or less educated elites (Sor frequented liberal friends and even some close to Simon Bolívar). But I think we must also look at the aesthetic criteria for the reasons that led to this oblivion, and that is what interests me in this reflection.
Sor began his career as a composer with Rossini as the shining star of the operatic panorama and witnessed the birth of the art of “bel canto” at the hands of his immediate successors Bellini and Donizetti. One of his first steps to affirm his worth as a composer was to approach the “diva” who at that time was Isabel Colbrán during her stay in Madrid, to offer him his services as a composer, after the fleeting success of his Telemaco nell’Isola di Calipso, presented at the Teatro de Barcelona.
What is most surprising with Sor’s Italian Arietts is to see how, at the very first time, he manages to write a collection of masterpieces. The models he was able to get to know in Spain were scarce, just the six Canzonetas by Martin i Soler and little else. Later, in Paris and London, he undoubtedly got to know the models of Haydn, Mozart and Moretti. Both in the treatment of the voice, with a virtuosity only within the reach of singers of very high level, and in the pianistic clothing, he demonstrates a very deep knowledge of the sonorous possibilities of what was an instrument if not stammering, in full development, barely put in value by Clementi and Mozart, musicians both that Sor knew personally the first one and certainly the music of the other. It is very plausible that Beethoven’s music also reached his ears, for there is no lack of echoes of the “Sturm und Drang” in the “Italian Ariets”.
In fact, the Belgian musicologist Fétis called Sor the Beethoven of the guitar…
A Clementi pianoforte almost identical to the one we present today is preserved in a music school in Terrassa, with Sor’s autograph signature on the piece of furniture. This does not prove that it belonged to him, nor do we know how the piano traveled to Catalonia, but it would be very likely. Nor do we know much about Sor’s piano studies in Montserrat. His clear anti-clericalism and his defense of social causes suggest that he left Montserrat as an excellent musician, but not at all trained by the clergy and their dogmas. Some Seguidillas, like the “Requiem Eternam” or his plea against slavery that he published in France under the title of “Appel des nègres aux Français” or in favor of the uprising of the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire with “Le dernier cri des Grecs” testify it. Something that Ravel will also do in his Chansons Madécasses, Hebrew or, precisely, Greek a hundred years later (Là-bas ver l’église). We know, on the other hand, that an imitation of the castrato Crescentini that he made in some London salon, increased his fame as a singer and several singing students appeared for him. I wonder if he did it in a “falsetto” voice to imitate him, but the duets he probably sang with his only daughter, Carolina, are quite clearly written for soprano and tenor voices, which must have been his tessitura.
Our program today aims to compare the music of Fernando Sor with several of his contemporaries: a fundamental pillar of European music such as Schubert, a little known work by Bellini, discovered in 1974 and whose subsequent operatic version has known a continued success since its premiere until today, or others by Donizetti and the pianist, composer, pedagogue Muzio Clementi (whose final theme of the Sonata op 24 No. 2 would use Mozart in the Overture to the Magic Flute).
Clementi was also a piano maker, associated with the builder Longmann & Broderip, who continued to make instruments under the Clementi name, including the magnificent example that is reborn today after the restoration carried out here in Barcelona by the master Jaume Barmona. Clementi later became associated with the Collard brothers, who would continue the business with their descendants well into the 20th century under the Collard & Collard brand. All this in order to reflect on the reasons for the success of certain works by some composers and the oblivion suffered by others. We are therefore going to witness (or so we, the musicians of this evening, intend to) a double renaissance: that of Sor’s “Italian Ariets”, so rare in musical programming but practically never presented with a quality instrument that already existed when they were composed, and the public presentation of a “pianoforte” whose patrimonial value is incalculable because there are really very few pianos that have crossed the centuries preserving the ability to translate the music that was composed in its environment of origin.
Xavier Rivera studied music after completing a degree in Romance philology at Barcelona University: he studied at the Brussels and Rotterdam Conservatoires with Eduardo Del Pueyo (piano), René Defossez and Antoni Ros-Marbà (conducting). He studied the organ with Víctor de Zubizarreta (a former pupil of the french composer Vincent d’Indy) and with Francis Chapelet, one of the most respected specialist in Iberian organ-music.
He plays in concert on the piano, in solo or with well-known players and singers: Maurice Raskin, Marc Grauwels, Hélène Perraguin, Alicia Nafé, Graciela Araya, Katheen Casello, Margarida Natividade and several young singers. He works especially on recitals of art songs by composers ranging from the Baroque to French, South-American, Scandinavian and Iberian, besides, naturally, all the major Romantic song-cycles, presenting them at various festivals and musical events in Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and the USA.
He had acquired considerable experience in opera as director of “alternative” groups, with tours of Haydn’s “Lo speziale” (Productions du Sablier), and productions with the “Atelier Lyrique Orphée” (“The Marriage of Figaro”, “Così fan tutte”, “Il matrimonio segreto”) or several contemporary works. He also works with institutions such as the Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie (“The Magic Flute,” “The Love of Three Oranges”, “La Vida Breve”, etc), the KunstenFestival des Arts (Belgium, with “Faustae Tabulae” after Gounod), Opéra de Wallonie (Rossini’s “La Donna del Lago”) and the Orchestre de Lille (France, with Rossini’s “La Cenerentola”)
He is currently organist and choirmaster at the Brussels Great Synagogue, principal conductor of the Chœur d’Opéra de Namur and honorary professor at the Brussels Royal Conservatoire & the Pedagogic University of Taiyuan (Shanxi, China.) He has also worked as artistic advisor for record production companies : Cyprès, Plein Jeu and Auvidis.
He is a regular as pianist for various international singing competitions: Francisco Viñas, Barcelona 1999-2002, Grand Prix de Paris U.F.A.M. 2001, Jaume Aragall 2000-2009, Marseille 2002-2006, Bilbao 2000-2012, Gayarre 2008- 2011, and contributes to Spanish musical reviews, like RITMO, and Belgian “Crescendo Magazine”.
Margarida Natividade, a Barcelona’s based soprano, was born in Portugal. She studied at the National Conservatoire in Lisbon, the Sweelinck Conservatoire in Amsterdam and the Brussels Conservatoire Royal.
After joining the Studio-Opera at the Brussels Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, where she sang among others Despina in Così fan Tutte and Pamina in the Magic Flute, she was cast as Minerva in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse, touring in Brussels, Viena, Berlin, Zurich, Lisbon, etc. She sang as well the Norina’s role in a new production of Donizetti’s D. Pasquale put on by La Monnaie.
Very active as a soloist in Oratorio, she sang in works by Albinoni, Pergolesi, Vivaldi, Händel, J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Fauré, Honneger, Poulenc, Bendimered, etc
Margarida’s recital work, with piano or harpsichord, has taken her all over Europe, mainly with French Mélodie, South American and both Portuguese and Spanish songs. She recorded J.S. Bach cantata no. 209 Non sa che sia dolore , motets by Ottavio Durante, Italien arias by Ferrán Sor and all Granados’ songs.
Pedagogy was always a main subject for her, obtaining her pedagogy diploma from the Belgium Education Authorities. She taught singing at the Brussels Royal Conservatoire and since 2002 at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya in Barcelona.
Margarida gives Masterclasses regularly in Paris, Lille, Brugges, London, Catania, Brussels and Barcelona.
(Sept. 18, 2021, 5:30 PM at CMMB)
Lecture & book presentation by Maria Ribera Gibal
“Emilio Pujol Villarubí, a portrait of a guitarist”
Emilio Pujol was one of the most important musicians who contributed to the classical guitar’s development. He was born in Granadella, a small town in Catalunia, in 1886. Later, he moved to Paris and Barcelona where he died in 1980.
Guitarist and musicologist was born in Guissona, Spain. She took her PhD with a thesis on the life and work of Emilio Pujol Vilarrubí at the University of Barcelona.
He graduated in 2011 in guitar at the Liceu Conservatory of Barcelona under the mentorship of maestro Guillermo Pérez Quer. As a final carrer project, she presented the documentary “Emilio Pujol, Teacher of Life” and then her name was included in the Guitar Encyclopedia by Francisco Herrera.
Maria combines her researches with teaching and concert activity in solo performances and together with the duo Ribera-Sabat.