De Falla, Roussel, Turina, Ibert, Malipiero, Poulenc, Respighi: Complete Solo Guitar Works


  • Artist(s): Antonino Ielo
  • Composer(s): Albert Roussel, Francis Poulenc, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Jacques Ibert, Joaquín Turina, Manuel De Falla, Ottorino Respighi
  • EAN Code: 7.46160913216
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Instrumental
  • Instrumentation: Guitar
  • Period: Modern
  • Publication year: 2021
SKU: C00488 Category:

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Guitarist Antonino Ielo authors his debut album with a collection of solo guitar works from the early 1900s, written by composers from the Mediterranean area, all of whom were non-guitarists. This last detail is non-negligible: when the guitar, in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, established its morphology with six single strings, its repertoire lived for a long time on the exclusive contribution of composers who were, at the same time, pre-eminent virtuosos of this instrument. One should not be surprised, then, that Hector Berlioz, in his Grand Traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, stated that it was impossible to write properly for the guitar without being able to play it. The French composer was just sanctioning a matter of fact, establishing an implicit taboo which would be overcome only in the first years of the twentieth century. This album photographs a historical moment – the early twentieth century – in which a series of deeply intertwined phenomena took place. These include the success of Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia, the arrival of the guitar in the most important concert halls, and, in parallel, the discovery of this instrument by excellent composers who were not guitarist. Many of them, supported by Segovia himself, dismantled Berlioz’s peremptory statement. They thus provided the guitar with a repertoire which was, finally, worthy to compete with those of the other instruments. The appearance of non-guitarists in a field which had hitherto stably remained the property of great virtuosos had an implicit, yet extremely relevant, consequence. Freeing itself from the instrument’s idiomaticity and related sounds, research in the field of guitar opened up towards new harmonic and instrumental horizons; this substantially reshaped the instrument’s aural identity. In the audience’s imagination, the guitar is intimately connected with Spain. The piece which established, more than any other, the intimate connection between the instrument’s cultivated repertoire and the Iberian folk traditions (and from which Ielo ideally starts) is the Homenaje pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy, the only guitar work composed by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946). The Homenaje was written in 1920 for an issue of the celebrated Revue musicale, entirely dedicated to the memory of Debussy. It allows us to appreciate the results of Falla’s systematic study and reflections on the nature of the cante jondo, the most ancestral, mysterious and high expression of Iberian folklore. The writing is pervaded by an unusual, dark and enchanting fascination. We can glimpse Debussy’s ghost, through quotes from La Puerta del vino and La Soirée dans Grenade. More generally, we observe, in Falla’s language, the deep traces left precisely by Debussy and Ravel. The Spanish composer could assimilate them during his seven-years-long stay in Paris (1907-1914). The Homenaje soon entered the repertoire of Segovia and Miguel Llobet; it was a work cherished by the composer, to the point that he created an orchestral version of it, suggestively entitled Elegia de la guitarra (1938). The artistic research of another Iberian composer deeply rooted in his fatherland’s folklore, i.e. Joaquin Turina (1882-1946) was similarly marked by the French taste. Turina, born in Seville, had the possibility of living in the French capital at approximately the same time when his friend Falla was also there. Later, Turina elected Madrid as his definitive residence (1914-1943). Turina’s guitar output, of which Andrés Segovia was the undisputed standard-bearer, is recorded here in its entirety. Upon listening, this output is very coherent. We find here a composer who significantly differs from the one who had debuted with a Quintet for piano and strings, with a late-Romantic style, deeply indebted towards the language of César Franck. Turina’s guitar writing is characterized by a changing mutability, which enlivens the opposition between the Andalusian folklike elements of the cante and of the baile. This dialectical encounter is transformed, in the direction of cultivated music, by his linguistic sensitivity, with an Impressionist mark. The rhapsodic character of Turina’s writing is evident especially in the free forms. These include both the extroverted Sevillana op. 29 (1923) and the ingratiating Fandanguillo op. 36 (1925). Its iridescent style does not renounce the fundamental value of thematic cohesion. In both pieces, in fact, the opening episode is reproposed, almost literally, at the end of the formal arch. This reappearance is prepared, in turn, by a series of quotes of the most characteristic motivic elements of the initial themes, elaborated with a skillful use of chiseling. Another typical feature of Turina’s style is the descriptive and figurative taste, wonderfully exemplified in collections such as the Siluetas op. 70 and the Tarjetas op. 58 for the piano. This taste is resurrected in Ràfaga (1929), a brilliant album leaf: evoking the wind gushes alluded to by its title, it requires notable gifts of power and agility of the performer. The two movements of the later diptych Homenaje a Tàrrega (1932), chronologically the last piece in Turina’s oeuvre, display the extreme emotions of the composer’s expressive world: from the dancing extroversion of Garrotin – an idealized elaboration of the eponymous Flamenco dance – to the dark jondura of Soleares. It is with the Sonata op. 61, written in 1930, that Turina signed his most monumental piece for the guitar. We find here the harmonic and emotional qualities typical of his shorter guitar works, along with his ambition to use the compositional materials cyclically. At the same time, we clearly observe the echoes of a fascinating coeval piano cycle, the Danzas gitanas op. 55 (1929-1930). The first movement (Lento-Allegro) is a Sonata form opened by a violent and theatrical gesture; it brings us into a singular climate of burning grandiloquence. This context melts in the grievous meditation of the slow movement (Andante), whose long melismas allow the Arabian roots of the Iberian folklore to resurface, albeit transfigured. The final Allegro is a tight-knitted rondo; it partly reproposes the musical materials of the first movement, maintaining its elan and dramatic power. The same France which had been, for Falla and Turina, an incredible mine of ideas, was suffused, in the early 1900s, by an incredible cultural liveliness. There operated figures of the standing of Nadia Boulanger, Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky, to say nothing of the composers who belonged, together with Jean Cocteau, in the so-called Groupe des Six (i.e. Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Germaine Tailleferre). This was the climate of the country chosen by Andrés Segovia in 1924 in order to seek fortune as a concert musician. Segovia’s stay in Paris would have an immense relevance for the guitar repertoire; it is a chapter of a history that, sooner or later, somebody will have to write. Suffice it to know that the composers who decided to write for the guitar, stimulated by Segovia’s success and bravura, were very numerous. Still, those who survived the Spanish virtuoso’s critical inspection were very few. Among them was Frenchman Albert Roussel (1869-1937), who composed a delightful and self-assured sketch by the title of… Segovia (1925). The deliberately cacophonic and angular harmonizations, built over the bombastic sound of the lower open strings, are a salty caricature of Segovia’s overflowing personality; incidentally, this did not fail to inspire the humorous arrows of still other composers. For example, the case of Darius Milhaud’s Segoviana was famous – but the piece was disdainfully refused by its dedicatee. Even though he was not explicitly bound the personalities of the Six, Frenchman Jacques Ibert (1890-1962), a composer with a solid academic education, wrote music whose carefree and elegantly frivolous traits can be likened precisely to the best results of the Six. The Ariette (1935) found in this programme is a very short character piece. The declared (or rather ostentatious) stylization of Spanish folklore in Ariette lets us glimpse the composer’s histrionic tendency. It counterbalances the deep assimilation of the folkloric traits demonstrated by Falla and Turina’s works.
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) is the last French composer represented in this album. Similar to Auric, Tailleferre and Milhaud, Poulenc left one single piece for solo guitar. His Sarabande was written on the spur of the moment, in March 1960, during a concert tour in the US with soprano Denise Duval. Of the eponymous Baroque dance, this Sarabande reproposes only the slow pace. The inexorable rigour of the Baroque Sarabande’s ternary rhythm cedes the way to a free monologue. Its thematic material is literally derived from an earlier piano work, the Improvisation XIII (1958). If the atmosphere of the piano piece was placidly melancholic, that of the Sarabande assumes a glass-like rarefied connotation. It is a pure distillation of sound, closed by Poulenc with a slow arpeggiation on the six open strings.
Finally, Ielo turns his attention to another musical world, the Italian one. The non-guitarist composers of the Peninsula were, in the first decades of the twentieth century, decidedly less prolific than their colleagues from other nations. However, the cycle of Variazioni written for the guitar by Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) in the early 1900s problematizes the picture. It is a recently rediscovered work, fortunately found by musicologist Angelo Gilardino among the papers of celebrated guitarist Luigi Mozzani, and saved from an undeserved oblivion. Rather than a real theme with variations, we face a cycle of twelve miniatures. Starting from C major, and following the suite imposed by the circle of the fifths, they review all flat keys. The editor of the printed version created a brief coda which, citing the opening C-major, works as a recapitulation. This work, whose character is generally frowning and austere, is part of Respighi’s non occasional interest in the world of the guitar and of the lute: suffice it to mention the three series of Antiche arie e danze per liuto transcribed for orchestra by the composer respectively in 1917, 1924 and 1932. The series of Italian pieces offered in this broad retrospective gaze is closed by the Preludio written by Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882-1973) in his buen retiro in Asolo (1958). For a curious coincidence, the piece was published, together with Poulenc’s Sarabande, in the Antologia edited by Miguel Abloniz for Ricordi (1961), and which would revolutionize the world of the guitar. Similar to Respighi’s Variazioni, the Preludio is entirely devoid of references to all forms of folklore. It is animated by an implacable motoric power, almost mechanical, which will erupt in the peremptory and cutting chordal conclusion. The broad panorama painted by Antonino Ielo juxtaposes composers very different from each other. Some of them clearly adhere to the world of folklore: someone for an intimate calling (Falla Turina), someone for a subtle ironic will (Ibert); others entirely elude every confrontation with the popular element, drawing desecrating portraits (Roussel), painting architectures with a liminal volumetry (Poulenc) or reaching a music whose beauty is determined by the absence of all extramusical references (Malipiero, Respighi). The specificity of this album, i.e. the main reason for its fascination, is found precisely in this: it individuates the guitar’s new identity in the dialectics between folklore and cultivated elements, and in the continuing transformation of the one into the other.

Leonardo De Marchi
Pavia, April 27th, 2021.


Antonino Ielo: Born in Reggio Calabria, he began studying modern guitar at the age of 13 with Vincenzo Baldessarro. He then began studying classical guitar with Francesco Pepè and Adriano Walter Rullo. Master’s degree in Musical Interpretation with the highest marks under the guidance of Giorgio Albiani at the Cesena Conservatory. He participated in national and international master classes with Alberto Ponce (Ecole Normal de Paris), Angelo Gilardino, Piero Bonaguri, Oscar Ghiglia, Lorenzo Micheli, Matteo Mela, Aniello Desiderio, Giampaolo Bandini, Luis Quintero, Maurizio Norrito, Johan Fostier, Luc Vander Borght, and obtained excellent placings in national and international competitions. As part of the Erasmus project, he carried out teaching at the "Manuel Castillo" Conservatorio Superior De Musica in Seville (Spain), under the guidance of Francisco Bernier. He has been a member of the "Ensemble Macramè" with whom he has performed regularly on various occasions and concert seasons, such as "Concerts at San Donato-A.Gi.Mus Florence, 2011" and the Festival "I mondi della chitarra 2012" (Cesena), "Le nuits musical de Ciuex”. He recently won the 2015 chamber music competition dedicated to the guitarist Davide Lufrano Chavez, organized by the "G. Verdi" school from Prato. Graduated in Musical Disciplines with a Technological Address at the "F. Cilea", in 2006 he received a three-year degree in Telecommunications Engineering. In June 2016 he obtained the DSPM Diplome Superieur de Perfectiontionment Musical (DSPM) at the "Ranieri III" Academy of Monaco - Montecarlo (Principality of Monaco) under the guidance of Maestro Luc Vander Borght.


Albert Roussel (b Tourcoing, 5 April 1869; d Royan, 23 Aug 1937). French composer. Though he was touched by the successive waves of impressionism and neo-classicism in French music, he was an independent figure, his music harmonically spiced and rhythmically.

Francis Poulenc: (b Paris, 7 Jan 1899; d Paris, 30 Jan 1963). French composer and pianist. During the first half of his career the simplicity and directness of his writing led many critics away from thinking of him as a serious composer. Gradually, since World War II, it has become clear that the absence from his music of linguistic complexity in no way argues a corresponding absence of feeling or technique; and that while, in the field of French religious music, he disputes supremacy with Messiaen, in that of the mélodie he is the most distinguished composer since the death of Fauré.

Gian Francesco Malipiero (b Venice, 18 March 1882; d Treviso, 1 Aug 1973). Italian composer and musicologist. Although very uneven, and less influential than Casella and Pizzetti, he was the most original and inventive Italian composer of his generation.

Jacques Ibert (b Paris, 15 Aug 1890; d Paris, 5 Feb 1962). French composer. His father was in the export trade, and his mother was a gifted pianist who had studied with Marmontel and Le Couppey, both teachers at the Paris Conservatoire. She used to play Chopin, Bach and Mozart, musicians for whom her son retained a particular liking. Ibert began learning the violin at the age of four, and then took piano lessons from Marie Dhéré (1867–1950), who came to occupy a special position in his life. It was through her that he was introduced to the Veber family, into which he later married. After obtaining his baccalaureat, Ibert decided to devote himself to composition, but he also had to earn a living by giving lessons, accompanying singers and writing programme notes. He became a cinema pianist and also began composing songs, some of which were published under the pseudonym William Berty. He joined Emile Pessard's harmony class at the Paris Conservatoire in 1910, went on to Gédalge's counterpoint class in 1912, and then studied composition with Paul Vidal in 1913. Gédalge was the most significant influence in his three years of training; Ibert described him as ‘an adviser, a confidant and a very good friend’. While Gédalge's teaching activities at the Conservatoire were confined to counterpoint, he also advised his pupils on orchestration and organized a private class for the best of them. It was in that class that Ibert met Honegger and Milhaud.

Joaquín Turina (b Seville, 9 Dec 1882; d Madrid, 14 Jan 1949). Spanish composer.
He was the son of a painter of Italian descent. Music played a large part in his life from his early childhood, and although in deference to his family's wishes he began to study medicine, he soon abandoned everything that interfered with music, for which he showed a strong aptitude. His serious study began with piano lessons from Enrique Rodríguez and composition lessons from Evaristo García Torres, choirmaster of Seville Cathedral.

He soon became well known in Seville as a composer and, from 1897, as a pianist. His early successes prompted him to go to Madrid with the intention of arranging to have his opera La sulamita, which treats a biblical subject in a very traditional style, performed at the Teatro Real. This was an impossible ambition for an unknown provincial composer; but Turina gradually became well known in artistic circles and his friendship with Falla influenced his ideas on the proper character of Spanish music. In 1902 he began to study the piano at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música wih José Tragó. He was more affected by orchestral and chamber music than by the opera performances at the Teatro Real. Almost the only way for a composer to earn a living in Madrid, however, was as a composer of zarzuelas of the género chico type. But the failure of a short zarzuela, Fea y con gracia, discouraged him, and the première in Seville of La copla was no more successful.

Falla Manuel De: (b Cádiz, 23 Nov 1876; d Alta Gracia, Argentina, 14 Nov 1946). Spanish composer. The central figure of 20th-century Spanish music, he addressed over the course of his career many of the salient concerns of modernist aesthetics (nationalism, neo-classicism, the role of tonality, parody and allusion) from a unique perspective. Like many Spaniards, he was attracted to French culture. His predilection for the French music of his time, especially that of Debussy, caused him to be misunderstood in his own country, where conservative-minded critics attacked his music for its over-susceptibility to foreign influences. Reaction to Falla’s music by his compatriots often mirrored the convulsive political changes the country underwent before and during the Spanish Civil War (1936–9), a period of intense cultural activity whose musical manifestations nonetheless remain relatively unexplored.

Ottorino Respighi (b Bologna, 9 July 1879; d Rome, 18 April 1936). Italian composer. Despite the eclecticism and uneven quality of his output as a whole, the colourful inventiveness of his most successful works has won them an international popularity unmatched by any other Italian composer since Puccini.

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