In 1984, the Madrid Fine Arts Circle started a cycle called "Contemporary Art Workshops", in which a group of seven painters were in charge of giving master classes to a select group of students. For this reason, the Music Commission of said institution (composed of Rosa Mª Molleda, Tomás Marco and José Luis Temes) thought of closing said Workshops with a concert in which the Círculo Ensemble, the institution's resident group, premiered a group of works composed each of them on the painting of each of the painters who had taught. In this way, a total of 21 works were premiered between the three successive editions of the Workshops.
For that first edition, I was commissioned to compose the piece linked to the Valencian painter Manuel Hernández Mompó, of which the consultation of the extensive bibliography available at the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art of Cuenca on his work revealed to me two periods fundamental in the evolution of his painting. The first, cubist style, full of dark tones and a certain drama, and the current one, well known to all, with a predominance of light and bright colors. This suggested to me the idea of writing a piece in two movements, trying in each of them to reflect "something" of both periods of his painting.
Manuel H. Mompó, Alaró III (1978). Carmen Thyssen Bornemisza Collection
Alaró (Majorcan residence of Mompó, and also the title of some of his works) is therefore divided into two linked movements: Man with lute, lyrical and dramatic at the same time, and Square of a town in party, brighter cut and cheerful, humorous at times. The somber color and the tension that accumulates in the first, resolve in the second in a carefree rondo in which everything can -and must- take place: serial, tonal and atonal fragments follow one another, linked by a chorus in which makes clear the echo of a pasodoble.
Although the titles of each movement are taken from two paintings by Mompó, my intention is directed more towards the totality of the period that each of them represents than to those two specific paintings.
Manuel H. Mompó, Square of a town (1969)
Alaró was written in Cuenca and Madrid, in April 1984. The work, naturally, is dedicated to Manuel H. Mompó, and was premiered by the Círculo Ensamble, directed by José Luis Temes, at the "Fernando de Rojas" Hall of the Madrid Fine Arts Circle on June 24 of the same year, as part of the closing concert of the 1st edition of the Contemporary Art Workshops.
The Círculo Ensemble, in 1989
Later, Alaró was recorded on LP and, like the other six works, published in a superb folder/disc with seven xerigraphs by the glossed painters, made expressly for this occasion; series of three discs, by the way, which became a milestone in the artistic publications of the time and which received the National Phonography Prize. The same recording was included in 1991 on vol. 6 of the "Contemporary Spanish Music" collection of CDs of Gasa label.
Cover of the LP with the works commissioned for the closing concert of the Contemporary Art Workshops 1983-1984 of Madrid Fine Arts Circle (1986)
Seven scores for seven Spanish painters
By Enrique Franco
(Review published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, June 29, 1984)
As the closure of its Contemporary Art Workshops, the Fine Arts Circle organized a remarkable concert: seven composers have combined their music with the seven painters who, during the 1983-1984 academic year, directed the pupils of the workshop. It was not, as Lucio Muñoz very briefly explained, any "integrating" process, since each art responds to its own phenomena, but a new attempt at rapprochement and identification did seem necessary.
That Spain is more a country of painters than of musicians is something that does not require further evidence: it is a truth in the public domain. Furthermore, in painting, Spanish wealth is almost "indecent" when compared to that of many other countries. Now, the musical creation of our country is going through a moment of splendor. I say it is going through and not is living because compared to an excellent average level of quality, a very large number of composers and an evident penetration abroad of this second musical renaissance of contemporary Spain, the attention received from the Pyrenees below is rather scarce, when they don't turn into disdain or attack. Perhaps it happens, it must be said, that the composers, as a community, have not shown much capacity for pressure and, frequently, they appear strongly unsupportive.
In the shadow of Zóbel
Just because of the call for solidarity between painters and musicians, highlighted by Lucio Muñoz, an act like that of the Fine Arts Circle, whose artistic results seem highly positive to me, should be applauded. If the exhibition of the student painters is of great interest, the contribution of the composers seems to me not only valuable, but significant.
Cristóbal Halffter spoke on this subject, an old subject in the history of "integration", with agility and fluency.
Music in front of painting
José Luis Turina (1952) wanted to capture the personality of Manuel Mompó in Alaró, reflecting in his staves the painter of yesterday -between cubist and dramatic, in love with dark tone - and the one of today, bursting with lights and colors. The traditional tension in music (grave-allegro) acquires new possibilities in the free, careful, detailed and "inspired" style, if we want to recover the word for a moment.