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Pianist Juan Carlos Garvayo

Homenaje a Isaac Albéniz (II. León) / Tribute to Isaac Albéniz (II. León)

For Piano

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At the beginning of 2009, and coinciding with the commemorative acts of the centenary of the death of Issac Albéniz (1860-1909), I was commissioned by the Spanish Association of Classical Music Festivals (FestClásica) to compose a work for piano in tribute to the composer. destined for a concert that would take place in autumn that same year and in which the pianist Juan Carlos Garvayo would take on the difficult challenge of premiering no less than twelve works composed for that occasion, under the name of Una Iberia para Albéniz.
In the words of Luis López de la Madrid, president of FestClásica, "based on the twelve pieces that make up the original work, Una Iberia para Albéniz provides twelve possible views of landscapes in Spain today, from the perspective of personal sensitivity and aesthetics of the composers" who were commissioned a work for this purpose.
It was inevitable that the pretext of homage to Albéniz would take me back to eight years ago, when I composed the Tribute to Isaac Albéniz (Jaén) destined to be the obligatory work of the 44th edition of the International Piano Competition "Jaén Award", held in January of 2002, and that already then I raised as if it were a new piece of Iberia seen from the current perspective. This commission, and the fact of once again having the figure of Issac Albéniz as a reference, and more specifically a Spanish town whose name the composed piece should have as its title, led me to project a more ambitious idea: that of bringing together three pieces of a similar nature that could constitute a fifth notebook of the wonderful suite of the Catalan composer. León, in this way, would be the second number after Jaén, and the composition of a third and last one would remain pending, which I carried out the following year with the composition of Salamanca. In this way, the Tribute to Isaac Albéniz was constituted in its entirety, each of the pieces that make it up having an independent life, as happens with the twelve pieces of the four Albéniz notebooks.
In addition to this reference to the composer and his work, León takes from Iberia -as it already happened with Jaén- the characteristic formal structure of most of the pieces in the suite: two very virtuosic and lively sections, of which the last one is a varied restatement of the first, and which in turn frame a calmer central section in which one usually finds a piano elaboration of a popular song. In this case, it is Por los aires van, a song from León that is very popular in the choral sphere thanks to the splendid harmonization that the composer from Orense by birth and from León by adoption Ángel Barja made of it.

First page of the score of Por los aires van in Ángel Barja's harmonization

After an elaboration of the incipit of the melody, at the end of the section there is a complete quote of the first stanza of the song. The extreme sections, for their part, do not contain popular elements, but they do appear in them "echoes" of bells that are intended to evoke those of the towers of the León’s cathedral of Santa María de Regla.

Program of the premiere of Una Iberia para Albéniz

The Tribute to Issac Albéniz (II. León) was composed between the months of February and April 2009, and premiered, along with the other works composed for Una Iberia para Albéniz, on November 28, 2009 in the Hall of the Cloister of the Provincial Council of Cádiz, within the framework of the 7th edition of the Spanish Music Festival of that town. The twelve works were performed by Juan Carlos Garvayo, to whom the work is dedicated, and were recorded and later included on a CD published in 2010 by the Andalusian Music Documentation Center on the Almaviva label.

Cover and back cover of the CD Una Iberia para Albéniz (Almaviva, 2010)

First page of Tribute to Isaac Albéniz (II. León)


Recording: Juan Carlos Garvayo

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