Category Archives: Enrique Granados

“Songs for Sorolla…”

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“Songs for Sorolla…”

A museum education project inspired in Joaquín Sorolla’s panels “A Vision of Spain” for the Hispanic Society of America in New York City

In Urueña, looking out on the plains of Old Castile

I was asked by the education department of the Hispanic Society of America to program a song and dance, arts education concert based on a series of panels the museum has on permanent display called “A vision of Spain“; painted by late 19th century Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), it’s an unequaled collection of panels that showcases the different regions and peoples of Spain; a commission by Archer Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society, it stands as Sorolla’s most breathtaking (their sheer size are part of the marvel) and lasting masterpiece. In my opinion, “The Sorolla Room” is one of the most unique spaces in all of New York City.

The Sorolla Room at the
Hispanic Society of America in NYC

In my search for meaningful material for this project, during my last trip to Spain I took a side trip to a remote town in Old Castile, to the medieval town Urueña. With only 42 full time inhabitants, this place is not your average town: it has more bookstores than bars (its part of a group of towns from around the world known as “The village of books“), has at least one “farm to table” gourmet restaurant (super delicious!). But I came to Urueña not for tourism, but to visit and research at two separate foundations: Museo de la música, colección Luis Delgado; and to meet whom for many is the most well known “trobadour” as well as the foremost expert in folk music, dance, story telling and costumes from the Hispanic World: Mstro. Joaquin Díaz, and his formidable foundation and museum Fundación Joaquin Díaz.

Outside the Joaquín Díaz Foundation
in Urueña (Spain)

The musician and composer Luis Delgado and his wife, the dancer and scholar Gema Rizo very kindly picked me up and took me to my bed and breakfast The next day I made my way to the foundation, which is housed in an imposing renaissance era palace. This foundation contains Mstro. Díaz enormous collection as well as his own museum of instruments, artifacts, objects and paintings relating to music. The first office I was ushered into to meet the librarian, had a large poster of Sorolla’s “La fiesta del pan” displayed. I knew I was in the right place…

Book stacks and displays at the
Fundación Joaquín Díaz in Urueña (Spain)

I looked at folkloric songs books as well as costume books of the regions of Spain that I didn’t have too much material on (I was looking for folk songs from Navarra, the Basque country, as well as songs from remote parts of Valencia). Mstro. Díaz very kindly welcomed me and gifted me CD’s from his amazing catalog of recordings. I was ensconced in another world, looking at lithographs of costumes from Andalucía, folkloric jewelry from Salamanca, as well as the religious rites and catholic saints related to “romerías”.

A street in the town of Urueña (Spain) at nightfall

In between my research, I roamed around the deserted town, looked out into the endless sea of fields that are the plains of Castile. At night (bundled up, since they have pretty cold winters in those parts) I walked among the beautifully lit renaissance stone facades of the town.

Lithograph from a book from the
Fundación Joaquín Díaz

The next day, Luis Delgado welcomed me to his museum of musical instruments, which hailed from all over the world, lovingly curated and displayed (I got CD’s from him too! of his group “Los músicos de Urueña” all early music of Spain). I also had a chance to visit several of the specialty bookstores, among them: one dedicated to calligraphy, another to film, another to cook books.

One of many display cases at the museo de instrumentos,
colección Luis Delgado in Urueña (Spain)

My search for “Songs for Sorolla” yielded information I was seeking about the origins of songs that I programmed; Mstro. Díaz’s CD of Hispanic songs from the American Southwest, led me to directly make the connection for the concert in NYC between the Cordobés hat and the American cowboy hat; Spanish dance artist Anna de la Paz subsequently wore a Cordobés “cowboy” costume to bring to life Sorolla’s “El Encierro” (the herding), using Federico García Lorca’s song “Anda Jaleo”. At the foundation I learned about Seville’s La virgen de la Macarena, as I had programmed a song by Joaquín Turina regarding the yearly Easter procession in Seville, portrayed by Sorolla in one of the “A Vision of Spain” panels.

Detail of Joaquín Sorolla’s “El encierro” on permanent display at the Hispanic Society of America in New York City

I found more information that I could use for the teaching concert, which I performed as part of Hispanic Culture Arts on December 17, 2019 for High School students of Upper Manhattan. Among the dances and songs that were heard on that day where a “Seguidillas Manchegas: by Fernando Sor and “Con amores la mi madre” by Obradors to portray the panel “La fiesta del pan”; “Jota” by Manuel de Falla to portray the panel “Aragón”; and “Danza V” by Enrique Granados to portray the panel “La fiesta”.

Spanish dance artist Anna de la Paz,
at the Hispanic Society of America,
photo credit Maureen Termecz
Performing “A vision of Spain” arts education concert, with Anna de La Paz & Rupert Boyd at Hispanic Society of America in NYC,
photo credit Maureen Termecz

Private screening of “El amor y la muerte: Historia de Enrique Granados” at The Juilliard School in NYC

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Private screening of “El amor y la muerte:  Historia de Enrique Granados” at The Juilliard School in NYC

I received an invitation from Spanish pianist Rosa Torres-Pardo to attend a private screening of a new film documentary about the composer Enrique “Enric” Granados (1867-1916) at the Juilliard School in New York City. The film is entitled “El amor y la muerte: Historia de Enrique Granados “ and is directed by Arantxa Aguirre. The screening took place on October 18, 2018, following a master class that Torres-Pardo imparted to several Juilliard piano students. The audience included several well known personalities from Spain’s classical music world such as former director of the Auditorio Nacional de España, Antonio Moral, conductor Rafael Lamas and composer Ricardo Llorca.

Poster for the film “El amor y la muerte: Historia de Enrique Granados”.

Being a great admirer of the work of Spanish film director Arantxa Aguirre since viewing her outstanding documentary, “Dancing Beethoven”, I was excited to be present at the preview screening of “El amor y la muerte” (translated as “Love and Death”). The title in Spanish really alludes to “Love” and “Death” as entities rather than abstract ideas (utilizing the male pronoun for “el” amor/love and the female pronoun for “la” muerte/death); the allusion for the title of the documentary is both the solo piano composition by Granados of the same title, as well as what is most certainly the inspiration for this composition, an engraving bearing the same title by the 18th century Spanish painter Francisco Goya y Lucientes, with whom Granados was obsessed with.

I would like to add that the documentary’s theme is close to my own heart in many ways: in 2015 and 2016 I had the privilege to work as a performer on two multi disciplinary concerts about Enrique Granados’ time in New York City in 1916, for the Hispanic Society Museum & Library (NYC) and the Teatro “El Escorial” (Spain) with pianist Borja Mariño.

Rosa Torres-Pardo was joint producer in this special film project, in which she was featured among other artists such as mezzo Nancy Fabiola Herrera, pianist Luis del Valle, violinist Ana Valderrama, pianist Joaquín Soriano in excerpted performances and conversations. On the screen we heard musicologists Walter Aaron Clarke and Miriam Perandones speak of their insights about the life of Granados. An interesting revisioning of Granados’ songs interpreted by notable flamenco artists filmed at the Teatro Real and the Prado Museum where other highlights of the film.

Pianist Evegny Kissin and baritone Carlos Alvárez also make an appearance in the film with short performances.

Pianist Rosa Torres-Pardo converses with pianist Joaquín Soriano in the film “El amor y la muerte”.

I heard Rosa Torres-Pardo in a concert the previous week, which took place at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, in a program of Debussy and Albéniz.  Presented jointly by the New York Opera Society and the Queen Sofía Institute, the concert took place on October 10 in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Day.  She essayed sensitive renditions of Albéniz’s Iberia as well as the Suite Bergamasque by Debussy.  Torre Pardo’s commitment to works by Enrique Granados is well documented throughout her career, notably so with her recent recording issued by Deutsche Grammaphon in 2016.

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Working with no film material at hand to illustrate the life of Granados, the documentary utilized historical photographs, and both original paintings created for this film, as well as period paintings (notably by Ramón Casas) which where in some instances animated, bringing to life early 20th century Madrid, Barcelona and New York City respectively.

A movie still of “Amor y la muerte” of a photograph of Enrique Granados.

Actors voices with quotes by musicologist Felipe Pedrell, painter and writer Santiago Rusiñol, cellist Pau Casals, novelist Gabriel Miró and poet Apelles Mestres, as well as text taken from letters by Granados to his wife were used extensively to bring the narration to life.

Movie still of “Amor y la muerte” of an illustration of Enrique Granados and Pau Casals.

The film highlighted the events of Granados’ stay in New York City, with its triumphs of numerous concerts, and the premiere of his opera “Goyescas”. It remains to this day the only opera presented at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City by a Spanish composer.

Pianist Rosa Torres-Pardo and mezzo Nancy Fabiola Herrera performing Granados’ “Maja dolorosa” in the film “El amor y la muerte”.

The film move us inexorably to the “finale” of what we know as the tragic fate of this figure, and to what seems to be a senseless although predestined death intuited by both Granados and his wife. Using the leitmotif of the aforementioned solo piano piece by the composer, I felt as a viewer a profound sense of loss and sadness, as I witnessed on the screen visions of a vast sea, with which the film both begins and ends.

A movie still of Enrique Granados and his wife Amparo in “El Amor y la muerte”.

The film is a moving tribute to one of Spain’s greatest musical geniuses and will be a memorable treasure for lovers of Spanish music and for fans of the music of Enrique Granados.

Pianist Rosa Torres Pardo and flamenco artist Arcángel performing a Granados song at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid (Spain), with Goya paintings in the background, from the film “El amor y la muerte”.

A recreation of Antonia Mercé’s premiere of “Danza de los ojos verdes” in 1916 was performed in the documentary by Spanish dance artist Patrícia Guerrero in the film “El amor y la muerte”.

The film runs 79 minutes and was officially premiered on October 23, 2018 at the “Seminci of Valladolid” (Spain).  I hope to announce soon the official viewing of this insightful and moving documentary here in the U.S.
(All photos were taken from my iPhone 7)

“Enrique Granados y su época” congress in Murcia (Spain) and “La fiesta de la tonadilla” recital at the Real Casino de Murcia

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“Enrique Granados y su época” congress in Murcia (Spain) and “La fiesta de la tonadilla” recital at the Real Casino de Murcia

As a surprise activity for my current trip to Spain, via my friend the Spanish stage director Curro Carreres, I participated this past week in an interesting conference hosted by the Universidad de Murcia, organized by Enrique Encabo and Electra de la Osa that dealt with the times and epoch that surrounded composer Enrique (Enric) Granados (1867-1916). Having a hand in the music programming at Hispanic Society Library & Museum in New York City on the occasion of the Granados Centennial as well as in the conference led by the Iberian Music Center in New York City in 2016, I was asked to be part of the talks at the conference in Murcia, as well as sing a recital with pianist Borja Mariño

Congreso Internacional

18, 19 y 20 de octubre, 2017

En ocasión de María del Carmen

Enrique Granados y su época

Maria del Congress Congreso Imagen

I got a second shot to revise my paper about the song “La maja de Goya” which forms part of the song cycle for voice and piano by Granados, Tonadillas al estilo antiguo (1913).  I shared my findings from both old and new editions that help to understand why the performance practice of including the recited “melodrama” was lost, and  presently point the way to give performers the option (or not) to include the recitation in modern day performances.  My paper is aptly titled “¿Vestida or desnuda?”, since the original title of the song was “La maja desnuda”, a play on the title of the Picasso painting as well as presenting the option to include or not include the Periquet recited text.

The set of 12 songs are almost never done in their entirety, as they include one song for baritone (usually sung by a female voice, “El majo olvidado”); a duet for two female voices which on rare occasions is sung as a solo song (“Las currutacas modestas”); “La Maja dolorosa I” which includes an obbligato for English horn; and the focus of my paper, the song “La maja de Goya” which has a recited section of text authored by the writer of the Tonadillas text Fernando Periquet (1873-1940); this particular song has the indication for the text to be declaimed over an instrumental piano and is traditionally omitted; now with new editions that are currently in print that include the entire text, there is now the option to restore the performance practice of inserting the declamation originally intended by both Periquet and Granados.  Borja and myself had the opportunity at Hispanic Society in New York City in December of 2015 to do the entire Tonadillas al estilo antiguo with all its elements, with the participation of a soprano, baritone and English horn player in addition to myself.

The complete songs of Enrique Granados revised by Manuel Garcia Morante and edited by Tritó is one of the first modern editions to include the recited portion written by Fernando Periquet in “La maja de Goya”:

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A recently published interpretative guide called Guía interpretativa Tonadillas en estilo antiguo by American pianist Mac McClure and Cuban Spanish mezzo soprano Marisa Martins, edited by Boileau in Barcelona is a great addition to the library of Spanish vocal music interpreters and enthusiasts. This edition includes the score as well as texts and CD of the cycle containing a recording of all texts, both spoken and sung (a thoughtful bonus is the inclusion of the IPA of all  sung texts of the Tonadillas cycle); the CD includes the “La maja de Goya” recitation with the piano accompaniment.

granados tonadillas mcclure - martins sheet music partitura casa beethoven barcelona 001

My paper dealt with restoring the context to bring about once more, the practice of doing the recited section of “La maja de Goya”. At the end of my talk, I projected the video of Borja and myself performing this piece at Hispanic Society, a concert that was part of the Granados Centennial Celebration year.

As there was no obvious context to present a recital of songs by Granados that had a close relationship with the Granados’ opera María del Carmen (1898), I opted to make something old new again:   due to my research that looked into the circumstances that gave way to the creation of the Tonadillas al estilo antiguo, I decided to program all the Tonadillas (minus “El majo olvidado”) in a concert that aimed to recreate the premiere of the cycle, make known those first interpreters that formed part of the premiere, as well as readings selected from excerpts from newspaper impressions about the event.  Here is one of the newspaper clippings of the day, which called the event “La fiesta de la tonadilla”, which I adopted as the title of the concert in Murcia.

La fiesta de la tonadilla clipping 1913

The University of Murcia arranged the concert on October 19, 2017 at the Belle Époque setting of El Real Casino de Murcia, in a beautiful room with grand piano.  To end the concert, we programmed a happy folk tune, “La canción de la zagalica”, taken from the opera María del Carmen, a gesture much appreciated not only by the conference organizers, but by the public due to its familiar tune and rhythms from the region.

Program “La Fiesta de la Tonadilla” October 19, 2017, Real Casino de Murcia

There was an impressive line up of world class scholars that deal with Enrique Granados in a multiple of aspects, from piano rolls, to dance, film, iconography as well as literary criticism.

 

Collage of photos of presentations at the congress by Enrique Encabo, Jordi Roque and Inmaculada Matía Polo

I unfortunately had to leave early and missed the exposition and debates moderated by the much admired Dr. Miriam Perendones, author of the epistolary of Enrique Granados, recently published by Boileau.  I had posed several questions to Dr. Perendones such as: What were the circumstances of the creation of the Tonadillas? what was the nature of the collaboration between Periquet and Granados? Why did they embark on the project? what was the premiere like, how was it received? absolutely all my questions were answered in her doctoral thesis and papers that she very kindly provided me for my own study.

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We had a great showing at the Real Casino de Murcia, which is an elegant 19th century building that emulates the Alhambra from Granada. We had a full house for “La fiesta de la tonadilla” and the concert was received by an appreciative audience, always a gratifying experience for the performers!

I whole heartedly congratulate the music department at the University of Murcia for helping to further knowledge on the life and works of Enrique Granados.

 

Photo taken during the performance of “La fiesta de la Tonadilla” at the Real Casino de Murcia as well as a photo after the performance with pianist Borja Mariño, and the cover art for the concert.