Tag Archives: Emilio Gonzalez Sanz

Spain and the Rossini “Stabat mater”

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Spain and the Rossini “Stabat mater”

With the Rossini celebration of the 150 years since the death of composer Gioachino Rossini being celebrated this year, works by the “Swan of Pesaro” are being programmed world wide.  This year I’m involved in several projects having to do with Rossini, namely “Verdi, Bianco, Rossini!” with pianoforte/romantic guitar ensemble Duo Savigni in Italy as well as a production of his La cambiale di matrimonio for Little Opera Zamora in Spain.  Tomorrow I take part in his Stabat mater in the city of Chicago, as part of the 2018 Chicago Oratorio Award – The American Prize this coming Wednesday May 16th. Always a privilege to sing this great work for chorus orchestra and soloists, I take the occasion today to highlight how the Stabat mater is related to Spain, and the reason it forms part of the commercial disc España alla Rossini, which I recorded and released in 2015 with pianist Emilio González Sanz on Emilio’s circa 1890 Broadwood piano for iTinerant Classics:

From the program notes in the disc España alla Rossini, by Spanish musicologist José Luis Téllez, which I translate into English:

“In his ‘charm offensive’ meant to assert his financial claims, Rossini did not forget the Queen: “Specially for Her Majesty Maria Cristina di Borbone, Catholic Queen of Spain, in Madrid on 20 February, 1831” he composed La passeggiata, which was published on 11 April, 1831 in the Spanish magazine «Cartas Españolas», later also by Ricordi. In Italian poetics the subtitle “Anacreontica” indicates a piece of poetry consisting of heptasyllabic or octosyllabic lines, dedicated to love, wine or joie de vivre. Rossini’s piece is not full of unbridled singing though but rather a contemplative ode to the beauty of nature. “La passeggiata – Anacreontica” must not be mistaken for “La passeggiata – Quartettino” from the “Album italiano” of his “Péchés de vieillesse”.

However, the most important aspect of his trip to Spain is the “by-product” of the Stabat mater; which he had promised Manuel Fernández Varela, prelate and commissar of the Cruzada on the day before his departure (23 February, 1831). First Rossini went back on his word and he did not set himself to work before March 1832 after the clergyman had urged him. To finish this composition destined for Good Friday in time he felt compelled to appeal to his friend Giovanni Tadolini for help. Rossini entrusted him with nearly all the solo pieces and the closing fugue (7 numbers), while he took care of the other 6 numbers himself: all ensemble pieces and just one solo aria, namely the cavatina (No. 10) “Fac ut portem” for contralto, the singing voice he had always considered most important. Due to the quarantine because of cholera this thirteen-piece composition reached Madrid only after Good Friday 1832 and therefore was not premiered until the Good Friday of the following year, on 5 April, 1833 in the church of San Felipe El Real. When the Varela manuscript got to Paris in 1841 Rossini obstructed publication and substituted the seven pieces by Tadolini with four of his own; as a result “Fac ut portem” is number 8 in the version of the Stabat mater as we know it today”.

Tile image:  First edition of the Rossini Stabat mater; engraving of the church where the first version of the work was premiered San Felipe El Real in Madrid; portrait of Manuel Fernández Varela, Spanish cleric who commissioned the Stabat mater; portrait of mezzo Emma Albertozzi, first Italian mezzo interpreter  of the Rossini Stabat mater.

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“La viuda náufrago” one of Rossini’s “Spanish” songs, with text by Ventura de la Vega

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When I first started my search of songs by G. Rossini that where themed either by text, rhythms or dedications to Spain, I found in my Belwin Mills Edition a song called “La veuve andalouse, chanson espagnole”.  Although recorded recently by the Italian mezzo and Rossini virtuoso Ana Bonitanibus in the French, my friend the Mexican mezzo Carla López Speziale had recorded the version in Castilian of this piece back in 2004 in her album Soirée Musicale:  Canciones de Rossini with pianist Sergio Vázquez (JBCC 098).  In 2012, this song was firmly in my program Rossini and Spain, which I did in Malta in 2012.

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Emilio and I at the Museo del Romanticismo of Madrid, where we first performed the recital and project “Rossini and Spain”.

Lacking the edition with the Spanish text, at first I took the words directly from the libretto of Carla’s album Soirée Musicale and superimposed it on my French edition.  While I was in Madrid in June of 2012 and before going to Malta for the concert, I went to the Royal Conservatory of Madrid were my colleague and pianist Emilio González Sanz teaches.  In the conservatory they had an antique edition of La veuve andalouse, which I was unable to photocopy because of its fragile condition.  This antique edition had this songs as No. 2 of a set of two, entitled  Deux Nouvelles compositions.  Although the French version, with text by Emilien Paccini, has the title as La veuve andalouse, the Spanish title is slightly different, La viuda de náufrago or “Widow of the drowned man”.

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This edition is among the many things the library at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid  has pertaining to Rossini, including original letters in his own hand writing and two small original compositions. One of the hidden anecdotes of history is that Rossini was asked by Mstro. Piermarini, one of many Italian musical personalities in Spain that worked for various noble families as well as in the Royal Palace (he was one of the voice teachers to the royal house in Spain), via the Spanish Queen Maria Cristina, to inaugurate the newly formed Royal Conservatory of Madrid.

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Edition of “La veuve andalouse” and various letters written by Rossini from the library archive at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid.

I was advised by Carla to obtain a copy of an antique edition from Glendower Jones at Classical Vocal Reprints, but it was not until I got in touch with Mr. Reto Müller, the director of the Rossini Gessellschaft in Switzerland that I obtained a modern performing edition of the song with the text in Castilian.  The texts in Spanish of both songs of Deux Nouvelles Compositions are by the romantic era Spanish playwright  Ventura de la Vega, one of the tutors to the Queen as well as one of the directors of the Spanish national theater of the time, “El Teatro Español”

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Ventura de la Vega (1807-1865))

Here is the text both in Spanish and in my own English translation:

¿Qué has hecho, dime, horrible mar,

de aquella prenda de mi amor?

¿Cómo pudiste arrebatar

mi bien amado en tu furor?

Su frágil barquilla

partió de esta orilla…

¡Ah! Dónde va su quilla?

¡Nunca ya volverá!

Gran Dios, de mi amargura

calma el cruel rigor;

de tanta desventura

cesa el fatal rigor;

Mas! O Dios. Tú que sabes,

¿pero no me engañé?

!Ah! tu, mar funesta,

¿será locura dudar?

Esta desesperación

me ha de matar.

La feliz barquilla,

nunca más tu quilla

¡ah, del amada orilla

la arena hallará!

¡Ah! niño desdichado!

Ah, huérfano has quedado,

fruto del amor y el dolor.

Ah, del paterno beso,

ah, dulce embeleso,

tu infantil mejilla ya no gozará.

¡Ah, todo acabó, todo murió!

Infeliz barquilla…

¿Qué has hecho…

The Andalusian Widow (Spanish Song) English Translation

What have you done, tell me, horrible sea,

with that sweet love of mine?

How could you have snatched away

my beloved with all your furor?

His fragile little boat

set sail from this shore;

where now goes its keel?

Never more will it return!

Great God, relieve the harshness

of this cruel bitterness of mine;

cease the fatal severity

of so much misfortune.

But, O God, you that know,

am I wrong in what I think?

Ah, fatal sea that you are.

Is it madness to doubt

this feeling of despair

that will be the end of me?

That happy little boat,

ah, never more will your keel

touch upon the sand

of this beloved shore!

Ah, my unfortunate child,

fruit of love and pain,

an orphan you have become.

Ah, never more, my little delight,

will your baby cheek enjoy

that sweet paternal kiss,

Ah, all is done…all is dead!

Unhappy little boat…

What have you done, tell me, horrible sea…

Apparently the Italian diva (but born in Madrid!) Adelina Patti must of sang this as a “party piece”, as a third edition I acquired by Oliver Ditson has printed on the fronstpiece  “as sung by Adelina Patti”.  The song dedication reads as follows:  “A mi amigo y colega F. F. de Valldemosa, distinguido compositor, profesor del Real Conservatorio de Madrid y colega de la Academia Francesa”.  An engraving and brief description of this figure is in the internet; he was a composer and voice teacher from the island of Mallorca; in the Petrucci Library there is a bolero for two tenors and piano of his that can be downloaded.  La viuda del náufrago is filled with Spanish connections and history that links Rossini to Spain…

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Adelina Patti (1843-1919)

The song is virtuosic and difficult; it is set up as dramatic “scena” for a mezzo with great high notes and coloratura.  The piano part has difficult rapid scale and triad dissonant passages that use almost the whole range of the piano, with dissonances and quick changing character that mirror the grieving widow. Over 6 minutes long, its a test of endurance and range for both the pianist and singer.  Its also a show stopper and great piece.  Joining my friend Carla’s recording, Ms. Bonitanibus as well as Marilyn Horne (RCA) and Vivica Geneux (EPCASO) recordings of the text by Ventura de la Vega of “A Granada”, my version with pianist Emilio González Sanz is featured in my upcoming disc España alla Rossini which is slated to come out with iTinerant Classics this coming April of 2015.

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It all began in Malta, with a concert called “Rossini and Spain”…

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The sound disc España alla Rossini began as a cool recital idea that I had:  in 2012 I had the enormous fortune of being invited to sing at the presidential palace of the Republic of Malta, a gracious invitation extended to me by the then president of this country (and the country of my grand parents) His Excellency George Abela and his wife Mrs. Margaret Abela.  It was a dream come true to visit Malta, and more so  to do it under such an auspicious occasion…I wanted very much to do a special program, one with personal meaning that would speak to me and in turn create a special atmosphere at the event.  I began a small investigation of the repertoire for this concert, which united two of my loves: the music of Gioacchino Rossini and the musical culture of Spain.

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Emilio and I rehearsing at the San Anton Palace in Valetta in June of 2012.

My pianist in Spain, Jorge Robaina was not available. I then reached out to a wonderful pianist, a professor of chamber music at the Royal Music Conservatory in Madrid by the name of Emilio González Sanz.  On Facebook and email we put together a program, which we rehearsed for a weeks time in Madrid before flying out to Valletta, the capital of Malta.  We did the program as trial at the Museo del Romanticismo de Madrid  before leaving, under the title “Rossini and Spain” with brief notes:

Maltese-American mezzo soprano ANNA TONNA and Spanish pianist EMILIO SANZ GONZÁLEZ debut their new musical venture: a program of songs and piano solos that narrate Rossini’s fascination with the country of Spain. Rossini’s personal relationships with opera’s most prominent family of the 19th century, The Garcías (Manuel García, Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot-García), Rossini’s marriage to the Spanish diva Isabella Colbran, as well as his close friendships with the notable Spanish personalities such as the Dukes of Alba planted the seeds for his love of the rhythms and songs of Spain, with his usage of the Tirana, bolero and the Seguidilla in his numerous musical compositions.

Rossini was not unique in his love of all things Spanish: the Grand Tour helped to popularize Spain and increase her mystique among travelers and tourists of the early 19th century. Numerous books such as George Burrough’s The Bible in Spain and Gustav Dore’s engravings, together with the numerous Spanish musicians and dancers such as the Garcias that were performing in Europe’s capitals helped to popularize late 18th century Spanish dance and song known as Escuela Bolera.

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Enter Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)

“La regata veneziana”, Nocturne for solo piano Transcription by Franz Liszt

“Facut portem” from the Stabat mater

Isabella Colbran, Rossini’s Spanish muse

“Giusto ciel!” from the opera Maometto II

“Assisa a piè d’un salice” from the opera Otello

“Una voce poco fa” from the opera Il barbiere di Siviglia

Visions of Spain

Granada, Opus 47, No. 1 Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)

“Canzonetta spagnuola”

“À Grenade” from the album Melodies françaises

“Bolero”

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Among the public was the ambassador of Spain, the newly appointed American Ambassador as well as numerous persons from the Maltese cultural life. I also had the pleasure of meeting for the first time family members that I continue to this day to be in touch with, as well as having the immense honor of the president hosting a family dinner at the presidential palace in mine and Emilio’s honor.

The concert was pronounced a success by several reviewers and most importantly by the listeners.

Review from the Malta Times of “Rossini and Spain”

 After the concert, we received flowers, a book and small commemorative plaque that I keep to this day on my piano. How surprised my humble grandparents would be if they had only known that so many years later this all would come to pass…

I wanted to further honor Malta in this recital, and as an encore Emilio and I performed a cantilena aria by the Maltese early 19th century composer Nicoló Isouard from his opera Paul et Virginie.

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Emilio and I receiving gifts and congratulations from First Lady Mrs. Margaret Abela at the St. Anton Palace in June of 2012.

I knew I wanted to make sound disc one day of this project. Upon meeting Ruben L. Someso, the managing director of The Recording Consort, I embarked on the adventure of a new and more in depth investigation of a sound disc that I would eventually call España alla Rossini

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 To contribute to the making of España alla Rossini, please check out my video and platform on Hatchfund:

http://www.hatchfund.org/project/espa_a_alla_rossini

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June and July travels in Spain with “España alla Rossini”

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June and July travels in Spain with “España alla Rossini”

Dear friends, enclosed is a link to a blog article by HiSTéRiCaS Grabaciones of the concert España alla Rossini. The  discographic project produced by The Recording Consort and distributed by iTinerant Classics had its debut as a live concert this summer at Gamma Heart Festival, The Museo de Romanticismo de Madrid, and in its complete form at the Festival de Segovia in Spain on July 21, 2014 at the Patio de Armas in the Alcazar of Segovia.  

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The concert is for pianist, mezzo soprano, Spanish dance artist with a historic piano, Broadwood & Sons (circa 1831).  The costumed concert repertoire is comprised of songs and duets by Gioacchino Rossini that relatex his love for the musical culture of Spain as well as his relationships with royalty and personalities of the day such as Queens Maria Cristina and Isabel ii, as well as the Duchess of Alba and Berwick and his patron Francisco Aguado.

Anna Tonna, mezzo soprano

Emilio González Sanz, piano

Cristina Gómez Tornamira, dancer

Miguel Borrallo, tenor

Article and photos of España alla Rossini at the Festival de Segovia:

España alla Rossini at the Festival de Segovia on july 21, 2014. article and photos

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Music in the Times of Joaquin Sorolla: Towards a New Spain (1856-1936)

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Music in the Times of Joaquin Sorolla:  Towards a New Spain (1856-1936)

Music in the Time of Joaquín Sorolla: Towards a new Spain (1856-1936)

interpreted by
Anna Tonna, mezzo soprano
Eva León, violinist
Emilio González Sanz, pianist
Francisco Fuertes, reciter

This concert of chamber music and songs by late 19th – and early 20th-century Spanish composers evokes the musical and intellectual world of the Spanish impressionist painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923).

Thursday, May 29, 2014, 7:00PM
The Hispanic Society of America
Broadway between 155th and 156th Streets
Admission Free. RSVP: friends@hispanicsociety.org/ 212- 926 22 34 Ext. 250

NEW YORK, NY, May 2, 2014 – The Hispanic Society of America presents a chamber music concert for piano, violin, mezzo-soprano and actor that showcases the little known musical culture of the so-called Spanish Silver Age, which is a musical equivalent to the world of the Spanish impressionist painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923). The concert is part of the HSA music series which this season, celebrates five centuries of music from Spain. Music in the Time of Joaquín Sorolla: Towards a new Spain (1856-1923) is the third and last concert of this season, and highlights music by Spanish composers from the late 19th century up to the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

The painter Sorolla was an integral figure of a group of Spanish progressive thinkers and educators, the so called Institucionistas, which founded a series of schools in Spain with the goal of bringing the country to the forefront of European culture towards the end of the 19th century. The role that music played in education was key to Institucionista thought; weekly afternoon musical soirees were celebrated at the Instituto Libre de Enseñanza, and were attended by Joaquín Sorolla on a regular basis.

The first half of Music in the Time of Joaquín Sorolla: Towards a new Spain (1856-1936) seeks to recreate the musical-literary character of theses gatherings, with pieces for piano and violin by Sarasate, Monasterio and songs by Gabriel Rodríguez and Rogelio Villar, all composers and persons active in the Institucionista movement in Spain. A testament to Sorolla’s involvement with this progressive movement are the paintings that are to be found in the library of the Hispanic Society of prominent figures in the Institucionista movement, such as Manuel Bartolomé Cossío, Benito Pérez Galdós and the Nobel laureate poet Juan Ramón Jiménez. The intimate ties between the founder of the Hispanic Society Archer Huntington and the Institucionistas is evidenced by letters and avid correspondence between them. The second part of the program highlights the composers that were recipients of the scholarships of the Junta de Ampliación de Estudios that the Institucionistas awarded to young Spanish scholars and artists to study abroad: María Rodrigo, Julián Bautista, Gustavo Pittaluga and Eduardo Toldrá.

The program includes several U.S. premieres, and highlights the talents of Spanish pianist Emilio González Sanz, professor of chamber music at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid, and Spanish violinist Eva León. Both are recording artists well-versed in the fields of 19th – and 20th – century Spanish music. They are joined by American mezzo-soprano Anna Tonna, a former Fulbright Scholar to Spain and a specialist in vocal music by Spanish composers as well as by award-winning actor Francisco Fuertes.

Repertoire (subject to change) includes:

Adiós a la Alhambra for violin and piano Jesús de Monasterio (1836-1903)
*Excerpts from Colección de Melodías Gabriel Rodríguez (1829-1901)
*Madrigal and Elegía de Otoño for voice and piano Rogelio Villar (1875-1937)
Aires gitanos for violin and piano Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908)
La Habanera for solo piano Ernesto Halffter (1905-1989)
*Villancico de las madres for voice and piano Julián Bautista (1901-1961)
Romance de Solita for voice and piano Gustavo Pittaluga (1876-1956)
*Ayes…Tres canciones for voice and piano María Rodrigo (1888-1967)
Sonetos for violin and piano Eduardo Toldrá (1895-1962)

*US premieres

The Hispanic Society of America

The Museum and Library of The Hispanic Society of America reflect the vision of Archer Milton Huntington to establish an institution dedicated to the celebration of Hispanic culture. Beginning in 1904, he began to construct a series of buildings on Audubon Terrace and to assemble a collection of books and works of art which are today unparalleled in scope and quality outside the Iberian Peninsula. The collection includes more than 800 paintings and 6,000 works on paper, offering a comprehensive survey of Spanish art through masterpieces by El Greco, Goya, Morales, Murillo, Ribera, Velázquez, Zuloaga, Zurbarán, Fortuny and Sorolla. The Museum’s 1,000 works of sculpture contain significant examples from the first millennium B.C. to the 20th century. There are also magnificent examples of ceramic, glass, furniture, textiles, ironwork, jewelry and photographs. The Library offers resources to scholars interested in the culture of the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America through its collection of more than 250,000 books and periodicals, which include more than 15,000 volumes printed before 1701 and approximately 200,000 manuscripts from the 12th century to the present.

The Hispanic Society Concert Series was inaugurated in 2010 as a free program to promote the music of Spanish and Hispanic composers. The Concert Series has delighted listeners with the finest recitals, chamber groups, and groundbreaking modern music ensembles. Many of the century’s greatest artists have performed in our programs. The program augments the viewing experience by providing an auditory context within which the collection can be appreciated.

This year’s Concert series is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Spain Culture New York—Consulate General of Spain.