“In the Spanish Style” Concert Preview No. 2

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the second of three “Musings” that will be posted in advance of the BSO’s concert on October 11.

Manuel de FallaManuel de Falla (y Matheu) was born in Cadiz in 1876. Like Richard Wagner, he had a great interest in literary works and felt a pull between music and writing. Music won out but not surprisingly, as he was exposed to a great many musical events in his younger life. However, it was his admiration for the work of the Norwegian Edvard Grieg that pushed him toward wanting to be a proponent of Spanish music and its national character. His tremendous work ethic and self-discipline paved the way for that to happen. Ironically, it was the work and recognition he received from fellow composers in Paris that helped him establish a foothold in musical circles as the 19th century turned into the 20th. He began to crank out success after success until he finally achieved immortality with his ballet/pantomime El Sombrero de Tres Picos or The Three-Cornered Hat.

The Second suite from The Three-Cornered Hat deals with the events in the latter half of the ballet. Essentially, the plot is farcical, dealing with stereotypical characters like the good miller and his wife, a lecherous and self-aggrandizing magistrate, and a bodyguard. Mistaken identities (the life-blood of theatrical works) and unrealistic situations that culminate in the powerful receiving their just desserts are the inspiration for Falla’s musical treat. Listen for the constantly shifting beat patterns that typify so much of the music from Spain. 6/8 time slyly becomes ¾ and vice versa. The sound of castanets tickle the ear as does the energetic restraint of Flamenco stylings.

Saint-SaensCamille Saint-Saens, born in Paris in 1835, was one of those Frenchmen for whom the captivating music of the Spanish tradition had great appeal. However, his contribution to this program comes through a different outlet. The source of the style comes from the island nation of Cuba, thus the title “Havanaise.” The Havanaise is typified by its rocking back and forth between a set of triplets and eight note duplets. The grouping is a gentle one-two-three, one… two, one-two-three, one… two. If it is reminiscent of the “Habanera” from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet, then that is an astute observation on the part of you, the listener, as both rhythms come from the same source.

That Saint-Saens would be attracted to a musical form from outside the French tradition is not surprising considering that he also wrote music that gave a nod to the Russian style and he was also a fierce defender of the music of Wagner, a stance occasionally taken during a time when Wagner’s music was still considered somewhat revolutionary. Perhaps the young Saint-Saens’ efforts and dedication to art could be summed up best by countryman Hector Berlioz: “He knows everything but lacks inexperience.”

Since music is prone to being the stuff of legend, a popular notion is that the crackling of a fire in a pit at a hotel provided Saint-Saens with the crisp Havanaise rhythm that typifies the work. Of course, the violinist, Rafael Diaz, to whom the work was dedicated was, after all, a Cuban. Legend or not, Saint-Saens had a winner on his hands and the work was immediately popular.

The next Manny’s Musings with insights about Chabrier’s España and Capriccio Espagnol will be posted on Thursday, October 8. Check back for more about “In the Spanish Style!”

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “In the Spanish Style” featuring BSO Concertmaster Michael Sutton, as soloist. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 11 at 3 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington.

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Bloomington Box Office or by calling 952-563-8575.

Share

“In the Spanish Style” Concert Preview No. 1

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the first of three “Musings” that will be posted in advance of the BSO’s concert on October 11.

In the Spanish Style

OutsideLeftManny2015When I set about the task of creating a program to begin the BSO 2015-16 season, I thought it necessary to define in musical terms what characterizes Spanish music of the 19th and 20th centuries. This is important because this concert is not only about Spanish music, but about composers who tried their hand at writing in that style. Several things surprised me. One was that the only piece we’re playing that was written by a Spanish composer, was written after three of the non-Spanish composers’ works. The other thing which was most interesting was that three of the works on this program were written four years apart from each other with two of them being published in the same year, 1887! Clearly, this style of music was compelling enough to draw the attention of both Russian and French composers.

The music of Spain is complex because there were so many regions that had their own forms of musical expression. The music of Andalusia is essentially that which we have come to know as Flamenco, characterized by its sharp rhythms and use of castanets. Aragon is where the jota (hoh-tah) likely developed with its addition of guitars and tambourines to the castanets. Add to this the regions of Asturias, Galicia, the Basque Country, and Seville and you can understand that such richness would appeal to composers with keen ears. But what is most important to recognize is that virtually all of these types of Spanish music lent themselves to or were born in the spirit of the dance.

What this concert will explore is not only the music of Spain but also Cuba via France and Minnesota! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Let’s start with Spanish music of the 20th century and Manuel de Falla…

The next Manny’s Musings will be posted on Monday, October 5. Check back for more about “In the Spanish Style!”

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “In the Spanish Style” featuring BSO Concertmaster Michael Sutton, as soloist. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 11 at 3 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington.

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Bloomington Box Office or by calling 952-563-8575.

Share
MENU