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Poster of the "Segovia's Musical Summer Festival 1996"

Dúo / Duet

For Shawm and Oboe

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Among the various works I have composed for unusual instruments and ensembles (such as the Four Quartets for four corni di bassetto, from 1993, or the Five Studies (d'après Valéry), for lute quartet, from 1994), shines with its own light the one written at a request of Segovia's Juan de Borbón Foundation at the beginning of 1996, of a piece for shawm (dulzaina in Spanish) and oboe, destined to be premiered at the Chamber Music Festival that same year.
Like so many instruments of folklore, the shawm is based on a popular repertoire at the service of its penetrating sonority (to be played in the streets), so characteristic. Although its timbre, given the emission of sound through a double reed, is directly related to that of the oboe, both instruments are sufficiently different so as to the fusion between the two is as problematic as it is suggestive. That is why the proposal had that point of poisoned caramel so stimulating for creation.
On the other hand, it must be taken into account that the date of composition of the work -1996- coincides with that of an in-depth reform of the study plans of the professional conservatories (that of the higher ones would still take four years to arrive), in which could not miss the teaching of popular music instruments typical of each Autonomous Community, for which it was necessary to generate a new repertoire of author works that, together with the traditional one, would give meaning to their insertion in official music studies. The presence in Castilla y León, on the other hand, of illustrious figures of traditional music, such as the shawmmer Agapito Marazuela or the folklorist Joaquín Díaz, seriously supported any initiative in this sense and neutralized the doubts that this development of music popular in music studios aroused among the most reactionary voices in the sector.

Fragment of the documentary Agapito Marazuela and the Castilian Folklore..
Script and direction by Miguel Velasco, 1978 (La Videoteca de la 8)

With this starting point, the Juan de Borbón Foundation sent me some recordings of shawm music, immediately drawing my attention to the melody of a Segovian "Pericón" on which I based the composition of the two movements of my Duet.

Score of the Segovian pericón in which the Duet is based.

Recording of the Segovian pericón made for this website by Alberto
Jambrina and Pablo Madrid, July 2020

The first is entitled The absent structure (I had read the homonymous book by Umberto Eco very recently), and in it the pericón is treated as a cantus firmus glossed by the two instruments: placed as bass and rewritten in long values, once the piece was composed, it was eliminated, and hence the "absent" character of that voice, which is so important from the structural point of view.

First bars of The absent structure.
The cantus firmus will be deleted in the final score (see below)

The second movement, Fiesta, is a ternary piece whose first and third sections, lively and scherzante, frame a contrasting central part in slower time and with a dramatic point in the recitative with which it concludes. In the coda that closes the third and last section, the shawm cites the first bars of the Segovian pericón on which the entire work is based, both implicitly and explicitly.

Fragment of the final coda of Fiesta, with the literal quote of the Pericón in the shawm

The Duet was premiered in the cloister of the Episcopal Palace of Segovia on July 18, 1996, by the shawmmer Alberto Jambrina and the oboist Eduardo Martínez, soloist of the City of Granada Orchestra.

Program of the concert of the premiere

The act took place within the XXVII Segovia Chamber Music Week, and a shawm built for the occasion by Lorenzo Sancho was used for it.

Joaquín Díaz interviews Lorenzo Sancho for the program
That's right... from Castilla y León Television


Recording: Alberto Jambrina (shawm) and Jorge Andrés Pinzón (oboe)

I. The absen structure

II. Fiesta

Alberto Jambrina and Jorge Andrés Pinzón
during the recording of the Duet

First page of the Duet for shawm and oboe


José Luis Turina premieres a composition with shawm in Segovia
Por José Luis García del Busto
(Review published in the newspaper ABC. Madrid, July 20, 1996)

Keeping quiet, the Segovia Chamber Music Week celebrates its twenty-seventh edition this summer. This time it is included within a broad and ambitious "Musical Summer" organized for the first time by the Don Juan de Borbón Foundation, with the sponsorship of the community, both municipal and provincial, plus that of Caja Segovia, and the collaboration of other private entities with implantation in the city.
It is not a small achievement the fact that today it is common for any self-respecting festival to accommodate a premiere and even motivate it by commissioning a composition. Segovia, in doing so, took into account one of its hallmarks of sound -the shawm- and planned a concert based on the "classical" instruments of the double-reed family -which is that of the shawm- in which the work commissioned to José Luis Turina and that was to be carried out by this popular instrument, with the company that the composer chose within the template that was available, would be premiered. José Luis Turina, far from fleeing from the bulls, usually takes them by the horns and, thus, he opted to make a Duet with the brief company of another instrument, and that this was not contrasting -which is always more helpful-, but rather closest possible: the oboe. And he put them into dialogue, with exquisite artistry, in two movements -The absent structure and Fiesta- very contrasting with each other, but with the nexus of using in both, as a reference, the traditional Segovian "Pericón": in the first, as an archaic cantus firmus, and in the second, as an sketch of a quote to end the festive finale. The extremely virtuosic writing for the shawm that Turina proposes motivated the creation of an instrument equipped with a few more keys to facilitate interpretation, and the Segovian builder Lorenzo Sancho got down to it on the eve of the premiere, with the good result that led him to greet from the stage with the composer and the performers.
These were the shawmmer Alberto Jambrina and the oboist Eduardo Martínez. Jambrina is a widely trained musician who not only "reads" the music, but also showed that he possessed ample technical resources to adapt to the notes and the type of language of a work that -no matter how much Turina has taken into account the characteristics of mechanism and timbral of the shawm- it is still deeply "new" music and that forces the shawmmer to situate himself in another environment, in another artistic wave different from the usual ones. The result was good, although it is necessary to wait for opportunities to reiterate the interpretation and that will allow us to overcome the version of the premiere, which seemed somewhat shaky due to nerves. Alberto Jambrina offered two brief joined pieces as a tip: one of his own, entitled Cathedral, and another b yan anonymous author from the 17th century.

Traditions and current events
By Carlos Gómez Amat
(Review published in the newspaper El Mundo. Madrid, July 21, 1996)

Three oboes -one of them alternating with an English horn-, a bassoon, a double bass and a harpsichord took part in the program. These musicians were joined by the wonderful shawmmer Alberto Jambrina, who, together with the oboist Eduardo Martínez, put art and effort into the premiere of an original and attractive work. It was a commission from the Foundation to the composer José Luis Turina, a Duet for shawm and oboe divided into two movements, which represents an attempt worthy of applause to bring the popular instrument to the so-called cultured music. There is also a folkloric foundation in the structure of the work, but it is only noticed at the end because, after using it, Turina hides it with his technical wisdom. Interpreters and author were applauded.
The public appreciated what was offered and rewarded him with applause, although a little more enthusiasm in that award would not have hurt.

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(Score without watermarks available at www.asesores-musicales.com )