From Spanish Hearts

Sunday February 12 @ 4:00

Circulo Fantasia for Piano Trio, Op.91 by Joaquin Turina
Piano Trio, Op.50 by Enrique Granados
The Four Seasons of Buenos Aries Piano Trio by Astor Piazzolla

In time for Valentine’s Day, this program has a Spanish folk flare and comes straight from the heart.

Círculo – Fantasia for Piano Trio, Op.91
Joaquín Turina (1882-1949)

  • Amanecer (Dawn)
  • Mediodía (Midday)
  • Crepúsculo (Dusk)

Círculo – Fantasia for Piano Trio was written by Joaquín Turina in 1936 and published in 1942. It is a tremendously evocative work and exploits the freedom of the fantasy using a theme which recurs and evolves throughout the work. The Amanecer slowly unfolds with an opening employing the cello’s lowest notes before the violin’s entry. What follows is a gradual emergence of sound and thickening texture, with the violin eventually attaining its upper reaches underscored by arpeggiated piano writing. At this point, we almost see the sun flooding the earth with light. The second movement, Mediodía, is a march-like Spanish dance first introduced on the piano with pizzicato in the strings. Its character belongs to broad daylight and is open and proud with gypsy-like sounds heard from the violin’s high register. The music later culminates into a dizzying climax before leading directly into the third movement, Crepúsculo. The music of twilight dissolves into peaceful tranquility, yet is laced with melancholy.

Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op.50
Enrique Granados (1867-1916)

  • Poco allegro con espressione
  • Scherzetto – Vivace molto
  • Duetto- Andante con molta espressione
  • Finale- Allegro molto

Enrique Granados studied composition with Pedrell in Barcelona, and it was he who greatly encouraged Granados towards developing a nationalistic style. In 1887, Granados moved to Paris to study piano with Beriot, and a couple of years later began an illustrious touring performing career as a pianist. In this role, he was able to premiere and promote many of his own works. He wrote piano and vocal music, and some chamber music, and many of his piano pieces have been transcribed for guitar.

He completed his Piano Trio, Op.50 on January 2, 1894, and premiered it a year later in February of 1895 with himself at the piano, along with his lifelong friend Pablo Casals on cello. It was so enthusiastically received that they had to repeat two of its movements. The trio was not published until 1976 in Spain. He wrote in a letter to his wife, “It’s my best work to date.” The first movement, Poco allegro con espressione, is stirring and passionate with highly original castings of its themes. The second movement, Scherzetto – Andante con molta espressione, exhibits a joyous Mendelssohn-like fleetness in the piano writing punctuated by the strings’ pizzicato and offset by the smoothly flowing middle section. The third movement, Duetto – Andante con molta espressione, offers a beautiful and expressive melody played like a love duet between violin and cello. The Finale’s forthright and vigorous opening heralds a monumental movement of glorious, romantic expression. It quotes thematic excerpts from the first three movements so bringing the work full circle.

Estaciones Portenas or The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), arranged by José Bragato

  • Primvera Portena (Buenos Aires Spring)
  • Verano Porteno (Buenos Aries Summer)
  • Otono Porteno (Buenos Aries Autumn)
  • Invierno Porteno (Buenos Aries Winter)

Astor Piazzolla was an Argentine composer and virtuoso player of the bandoneon, and has been dubbed “the world’s foremost composer of tango music.” He single handedly forged a new style called “nuevo tango” which blended tango music with elements of Jazz, Classical and even counterpoint. He composed primarily for orchestra and film and some smaller ensembles re-working the tango into something all his own. As a young child, he spent hours listening to his father’s records of tango orchestras and to Jazz. In 1929, his father brought home a bandoneon he had bought in a pawn shop, a hugely popular instrument in that day, and Piazzolla’s fate was sealed. He learned to play it really well so that by the age of 17, he was easily accepted into the foremost tango orchestra of Buenos Aries as a bandoneonist. He eventually studied piano, classical music and then composition with Ginastera, and later on scholarship with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. It was she who convinced him not to abandon the bandoneon and tango music for that was his true voice.

The Four Seasons of Buenos Aries, written from 1965-70, was originally conceived as four separate compositions, though he sometimes performed them as a set. He wrote them for his own Quintet: violin, piano, electric guitar, double bass and bandoneon. Since then, it has been arranged for various groupings, and has become very popular in its Piano Trio form. It was the Russian arranger Desyatnikov who first juxtaposed the set with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and there is a faint echo of Vivaldi’s work in the last piece. “Porteno” is a Spanish word referring to one who is born in Buenos Aries, but these pieces don’t so much describe the season and weather of Buenos Aries, as much as it describes the emotional weather of the human condition. Each piece alternates fast tango dance sections, rhythmic and energetic, with slow heartfelt music where each of the three instruments take turns in the spotlight. A full emotional spectrum is explored, as the music passes through the pleasurable feelings of the dance, its exuberance, and joy, to those of loss, isolation, nostalgia to moments of great beauty, longing, desire and eroticism. Always sensual and highly charged, the music reveals every facet of love through the passage of time.