A Annelie de Man, that opened and shared paths.
Everyone must walk at the pace of their own time. Let us create new beauties and we will like them.
It is impossible to avoid certain autobiographical traces by introducing this new collection of not-usual pieces: sounds recorded in Granada, the city that hosted Manuel de Falla in 1920 and in which he received in 1922 the visit of the charismatic Wanda Landowska. Thanks to this meeting, Falla becomes the first composer of the twentieth century who turns his eyes to the key and introduces it into an orchestral score – The altarpiece of Maese Pedro (1923) -. His Concerto for key and five instruments (1923-26), dedicated to Wanda, was the first piece of the twentieth century that entered my repertoire, still being a student in Zaragoza and unaware of what this concert had meant in the History of the Music.
My subsequent studies in Amsterdam introduced me, by the hand of Annelie de Man, to the world of graphic scores, extended techniques, electronics, work with composers; I discovered the figure of Antoinette Vischer and enjoyed the heart rhythm of Elisabeth Chojnacka’s concerts live. Another episode located in The Hague dates from the same period, in a meeting dedicated to the composer György Ligeti, where I remember with special enthusiasm how a young José María Sánchez-Verdú gave me Palimpsestes II; It was the first time that a composer gave me a work for my instrument, a dedication included – here it is, more than two decades later, closing the album and recorded in scoop.
And what had become of the music for key in Spain between Falla and Sánchez-Verdú? In the eyes of a young student, it was not easy to respond when this repertoire did not enter into formal training or the programming of concert halls. Names like Luis de Pablo or Tomás Marco appeared quickly among those who had written for A. Vischer or E. Chojnacka, but beyond this the picture was not very encouraging.
In one of his 1952 notebooks, Wanda Landowska noted: «I wonder what modern music can bring me. Will it be a refuge, a fun, joy, comfort? The oldest piece included in this CD dates from 1952: it is Le Clavecin Voyageur by Joan Maria Thomàs, an organist and composer who, in advance of his time, had founded Mallorca in 1926 «the Bach Association for the ancient music contemporary ». It is perhaps the first piece for a key composed in Spanish territory in the twentieth century after the aforementioned of Manuel de Falla, to the intimate friend of the Mallorcan composer.
The first real impulse or incentive for creation will take place with the arrival of the harpsichordist Genoveva Gálvez, first to Santiago de Compostela in 1959 and later, in 1972, to Madrid as the first Professor of Clave in our country. Genoveva breaks into the capital with an open mind, in contact with the composers of the moment. What this conservative Spain will offer is a writing in a certain conventional way – now as a recreation of past environments, prays as a tribute – and that still does not go beyond the limits of the instrument and does not go into electronics – in some cases groundbreaking in loudness , the most rebellious examples being the album’s own extremes: Herbania and Palimpsestes. In spite of everything, the fact that a good number of composers pay attention to the instrument means a break, a renewal, the gradual return of the key to the contemporary creative universe. Genoveva will be a key figure; not in vain three of the pieces collected here are dedicated to her – those of Joaquín Rodrigo, José Luis Turina and my Aragonese countryman, Angel Oliver.
The Leonardo Scholarship of the BBVA Foundation, of which I was a beneficiary in its 2017 edition, has made it possible not only to make this album a reality, but also an extensive project for the dissemination of music for the key in 20th-century Spain. The project includes a documentary that will be released in the near future. Among the composers of this album, those who are still among us – as well as Genoveva herself – were kind enough to receive us and share a good part of their time, their first contacts with the key, their memories …
Sometimes we strive to find more meaning and explanations for works of art. There is no better fortune for today’s performer than to have the presence of the composer. Honesty and simplicity arise from the conversations with Tomás Marco, José Luis Turina, José María Sánchez-Verdú; virtues that help us to normalize and disseminate this repertoire, perhaps also to update its interpretation. They do not impose limits, they suggest adapting the music to the instrument and the available records. There are no great aspirations or tribulations after each of the works: a moment, a discovery, an idea … a past, a reference and a bell – which eventually attracts – with which to play. From respect to the past, the key reads new pages of near times.
That’s why I didn’t want a brochure with some technical, analytical, convoluted notes – dates and names accompany each of the tracks on the CD; A quick search on the Internet throws much more information on any of the composers than is desirable here. Yes, a look from the outside, a clean listening, embodied with the beauty and restlessness that Luis Baeza’s pen distilles. With him I invite you to delve into the sharp, metallic, rhythmic, evocative sound of the second half of the Spanish 20th century.
Silvia Márquez Chulilla
Distance with the beautiful
We call the strange or perhaps the mysterious and inaccessible beautiful. Nabokov says that the human being, in order to recognize the beautiful, needs to maintain a distance for a long time with that object of glare.
The routine bewitches. We quickly get used to the protocols of gesture and words and we no longer name the things of the world with that intense glow of the former. And perhaps that is why the fantasy of the artistic, which forces us to surprise ourselves and to be ecstatic, to show ourselves feignedly pure before a creation that is outside the world but cannot exist without it. Always be, again and again, something different but the same. Go back, again, then walk away.
This is the journey of the harpsichord, a solemn animal that has crossed time and has been, at the same time, its witness and bearer. Here you have the time, sentence the key. It brings it to us in the form of an ornament or more simply. Represents it with twist or tear. It gathers its gallant atmosphere from the palaces and from the islands of the avant-garde a reckless and adventurous wind. Take the time, he insists, and sometimes it reminds us of a golden suit or an ancient dance.
His steps soon headed toward an unexplored path in the hands of several women. As one who clearly senses a destiny, Wanda Landowska entered with determination in that forest, still uncertain, of the new aesthetics. Diffuser and interpreter, in addition to rescuing the harpsichord to interpret baroque and classical music, he saw an expressive medium suitable for the novel contemporary manifestations. The ear would now seek dryness and contention in the expression, far from those romantic and sentimental outbursts of other times. An animal of measured strength, the key; a species that seduced great composers like Falla and Poulenc.
After Landowska, other women consolidated this return of the key to the stage and to contemporary creation. Many composers of the 20th century wrote with enthusiasm for Antoinette Vischer, Annelie de Man, Elisabeth Chojnacka or Goska Isphording. And in Spain, in the 60s, it was Genoveva Gálvez, first key professor, who got that initially lonely journey to attract the creators of the moment to populate that new space of surprising sounds.
Music organizes us. It makes us be. We sound under the flesh and arteries. And again. Always the same but different. The pain rumbles in the night and joy is always heard like a laugh of laughter.
This disc has a lot of primary evocation. It is an invitation to a trip. An approach to some place and a later escape, a displacement towards a city or towards a temperature. Because not only do you travel to ports and squares. It is often landed in an atmosphere or in a memory and it is these musics that bring us to its understanding its clearest forms.
1. HERBANIA | Tomás Marco (1942-)
The landscape is desert and arid. The volcanic earth is lush in its nakedness. And the wind, the sand and the rocks, configure in this space a peculiar cadence thanks to its disagreements. A wave. Other. We do not produce the rhythm: we are its anthology. Anguish appears as a narrowing in the throat, eyes covered with sand and thistles. The pulsation of music unmasks us. The first pumping, the first wandering of the language, the tectonic displacement under the flesh already started. Singing is trembling. We are drifting bodies, the syncopated accent on this island that doesn’t end, the volcano inside the volcano inside the volcano.
2. 3. PRÉLUDE ET RITORNELLO | Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)
The slowness of a doubt. Your persistence In the absence of certainties, circumlocutions occur and words are a smoke. It advances the delinquent music, decidedly irresoluble, again towards its beginning. Shyly, he hides and emerges. The song is a circle, the frustration of a story that does not find its mouth. And expectant, imperious, expect a ray of light to end that cowardice.
Now freed from his claustrophobia, he finds, finally, singing his channel. And what was groping before, now unfolds with obsessive firmness towards a long-needed conclusion.
4. PRELUDI | Joaquim Homs (1906-2003)
Reality is far: the river, in the river itself; the tear, at the edge of the eye, in some shameful bed; The storm, in its own disaster. The human is a stain. The sounds are contemplated in a mirror and are recognized pure, self-sufficient. The universe of twelve spheres moves in constant rotation and all bodies are a reflection of themselves or other bodies. And the world plays to be this accelerated melody through broken, fragmentary images. Music is an intimate and absolute pleasure. It will be in the naked body of poetry, dispossessed forever of clothes, pure and innocent as Juan Ramón wanted, where we will meet to celebrate the ritual of art.
5. 6. DUE ESSERCIZI | José Luis Turina (1952-)
PRAELUDIUM | The interpreter displays the chords as an uncertainty, in the manner of Louis Couperin’s non-mesurian preludes. The melody will be an expectation, a wish suspended pending its most plausible resolution. Or of its more logical continuity. It is a game of wills: the interpreter groups the notes without measure, like a craftsman who shapes the matter, and the listener offers himself as a destination to which this new being of air will die.
SONATA | The commotion will come later by the unstoppable gust of the sixteenth notes. Live and insistent, they will not give truce to silence. And the music will be perpetual as a remorse. Miguel de Unamuno manifested his thirst for eternity, the secret and modest longing of men to exist forever. Death may be just a spelling device that makes sense. We need the finals when all possible combinations have already been exhausted. As Borges says, the end will produce, above all, great relief.
7. 8. 9. 10. 11. LE CLAVECIN VOYAGEUR | Joan María Thomás (1896-1966)
I. FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK | The big city and hope live together in the big cities. The speed of light is not greater than that of bodies. People are frantic and clumsy, like disoriented pigeons that will never show off their flight. He wanders to uncertain places, but always with the determination of the one who travels to a destination. He runs away. It is easy to hide the penalty in the center of this hyperbole. And euphoria and joy are barely drawn. No one will repair that multiplied body. And they will advance the hours running over, crossing the mood of a procession of machines escaping. And the city will be a taste of iron on the lips and an unprecedented temperature in the blood.
II. EISENACH | To return to this city is to give coherence to the story. The syntax of the memories is ordered and the mind finally understands its language. The castle, the fountain and the cobbled road will remain. The painful light of the afternoon will be identical. Again the illusion of repeated. There are cities that have a complicated spelling, a leakage or windbreak density. The artifice of an ancient music is engraved on you and, when you contemplate the towers, the bridges, the battlement, the same flock of birds will then refresh your memory in its affected melody.
III. PETITE PAVANE À VERSAILLES | The dolls have developed a surprising disposition for eternity. In their chandelier palace, they dance an orthopedic dance. The corridors are very long and their smiles are even more infinite. You look out at the old house with restlessness. Happiness was a piece of plastic; childhood, this mutilated dance where time bleeds with its best costume.
IV. LITURGIE ANCIENNE À TOLEDO | The trip is always a question. And in this one you ascend through the streets with an interrogative spirit. Sometimes a maze. You reach the belly of another century and harmony sounds like the spear of a languid knight. The air brings back the memory of some battle, the loud roar of the animals that went mad in the square, the enigma of the witches who crossed the night with their mussels for the lovers. A wise king translates with his court what is known about the movement of the stars. The verbs and constellations, the objects of the senses and those of the soul are conjugated. They look at all those men in heaven, and there they trust, clinging to a fabulous language to which their bones are already growing.
V. DANSE CASTILLANE DU MATIN | In the square, children play in the sun. That yawn of light produces along with the aridity of some sadness a counterpoint. The fountain, in the center, expels a tired breath. There the little ones huddle with anxiety and the birds rest from their illusion of flight. Time passes upside down and roars, from the distance, the stomach of a giant. The days are courageous, and the square, the road, the eternal plain, the joy of the ancient dances that still beat under the dismembered skin of some walking knight remain loyal.
12. OFFER TO MANUEL DE FAIL | Ángel Oliver Pina (1937-2005)
Nos traerán las flores un olor a sexo. Se añorará la tibieza de aquella saliva enamorada. Y del fondo de la garganta, emergerá rota una queja y un misterio. Desplegará la mañana su herida y temblará en el agua el deseo. La música será el embrujo, el alimento de este incendio.
Bajo la carne hay una violencia que perforará la tierra: algunas ciudades duelen tanto como un tajo.
13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. PALIMPSESTES | José María Sánchez-Verdú (1968-)
Not even a wave breaks twice the same. Every new sadness has its form. And excited lips will always pronounce the same words of love differently. We will fall for the same reasons, but the damage will always be uneven.
Art always returns to itself, but never identical, like the river of Heraclitus. Music and literature have always started, in reality, from other engendering works. And novelty and innovation are, in this sense, just a fantasy.
By way of palimpsestos, the motifs are superimposed, travisted, modified. And the result will be a pastiche or a parody, a prolongation or a development, a construction that rises above the Tiento of first tone of Antonio de Cabezón. From there, the new being, vibrant and ancient, breathes through these seven palimpsestos, seven powerful lungs, self-made over and over again, surpassed from its own vigorous and renewed genetics.
Luis Baeza Andreu