En Volandas (In wings) was composed between May 17 and 28, 1982, at the end of my first course of stay in Cuenca, of whose Professional Conservatory of Music I was secretary and professor of Harmony, Counterpoint and Fugue, Composition and History of Music between 1981 and 1985.
The title comes from the Sonnet to Cuenca by Federico Muelas, whose last verses are:
Cuenca, en volandas de celestes prados
de peldaño en peldaño fugitiva.
Gallarda entraña de cristal que azores
en piedra guardan, mientras plisa el viento
de tu chopo el audaz escalofrío.
¡Cuenca, cristalizada en mis amores!
Hilván dorado al aire del lamento.
Cuenca, cierta y soñada, en cielo y río.
Cuenca, in wings of blue meadows
from rung to rung runaway.
Gallarda glass entrails that azores
in stone they keep, while the wind pleats
from your poplar the audacious shudder.
Cuenca, crystallized in my loves!
Golden basting in the air of lament.
Cuenca, true and dreamed, in sky and river.
The work was composed at the request of the cellist Arturo Muruzábal, with whom I coincided as students at the Madrid Conservatory at the end of the 70s. At the beginning of the 80s Arturo was studying the higher degree of cello at the Hochschule in Freiburg, and for his final degree exam the program required to include a contemporary work for solo cello. He wanted to play a work composed especially for that occasion, and he asked me if I wanted to write it. I said yes and got down to work in the spring of 1982. Needless to say, he passed the exam with the highest grade.
Then the work slept a long lethargy until the cellist Angel Luis Quintana noticed it and began to work on it with his students from the Superior Conservatory of Music in Zaragoza, where it has been widely played in recent years. En volandas aims to help the performer to demonstrate their technical and musical qualities. Difficulties and virtuosic passages abound, of great brilliance for the soloist, but that is not an obstacle for the appearance of areas of great expressiveness, in which a good and sonorous cantabile is required, delicate sometimes and dramatic others. The work is very flexible and leaves a lot of freedom to the interpreter to resolve with the interpretation some aspects that the score leaves in a certain way open (the piece is not compassed to allow a general rubato to facilitate clearly showing the general formal structure and especially the smaller formal relationships.)
The formal structure is a clear rondo, in which the prestissimo possibile passage acts as a recurring refrain, and among whose interventions are the verses, each with its differentiated personality and its timbral characteristic (the first is based on the tremolo sul ponticello, the second in the pizzicati, and the third in the legato and very expressive passage that precedes the brilliant ending.
Finally, the harmonic and melodic material revolves around the intervals that in those years occupied most of my interest (tritones, seconds and sevenths appear statistically more frequently than other intervals). In 1982, the year of composition of the work, I had relatively recently finished my apprenticeship with Carmelo Bernaola, who was a devotee of interval composition (that is, using almost exclusively a predetermined and very reduced number of intervals, to ensure the harmonic and melodic coherence of the piece. It is a way of controlling the atonality without resorting to twelve-tone series and other types of procedures that are more cumbersome and uncomfortable to work with).
In 2008 En volandas was recorded by the cellist Fernando Arias, and published on the CD corresponding to the 2007-2008 academic year at the "Reina Sofía" School of Music in Madrid.
Cover of the CD of the Reina Sofía School (year 2007-2008)