Official Release: 10 December 2021
I believe that in every CD there is something autobiographic, something belonging to one’s own story. At the end of this work, I realize how true this is particularly as regards my latest CD, where every composer represents a precise moment in my itinerary, in my artist’s life. Leo Brouwer was my first contact with contemporary music, thanks to the Estudios sencillos; they were a necessary stage for young students, yesterday as today, in the passage between the studies by the Classics and the compositions by the twentieth century masters. Later I had the opportunity of knowing Abel Carlevaro; at first thanks to his pedagogical publications, and, later, thanks to a recording by one of his most representative students, i.e. Baltazar Benitez, performing the five Preludios Americanos. These were the very first works I studied under the guidance of Maestro Angelo Gilardino, the teacher I had chosen, who could give a definitive answer to my many questions and doubts. Since the very first lesson with him, I realized that I had reached a higher level. Gilardino’s knowledge of the repertoire (not only for the guitar), his elaboration of an absolutely innovative technique, and his quest for the most appropriate aesthetical approach for each composer: all this gave to the instrument that I had played for so many years, and to which I was devoting many efforts, a dignity equal to the “upper crust” instruments. From that day, Gilardino was my true and only point of reference, the Polar Star who guided my path as a guitarist, as an artist, as a man. Chronologically, the last acquaintance I made was that with Fabio Frizzi; it happened, as is often the case, on the occasion of a concert organized by common friends. From that time, we shared many moments together: on stage (Frizzi conducting and I being the soloist), in the recording studio (he as the composer and I as the performer), or, more simply, in completely informal situations, where we shared our great, common passion for the guitar.
In accord with the Publishing Company’s Artistic Direction, we decided that it was best for the composers to introduce their works in their own words:
5 Preludios Americanos
Abel Carlevaro was certainly the most distinguished personality in the world of guitar in Uruguay. Thanks to his multifaceted activity as a performer, teacher and composer, he came to the attention of the international guitar world during the second half of the twentieth century. As he himself admitted, Carlevaro always sought, through a “scientific” approach, to answer the technical problems he encountered, time and again, when playing the guitar. This research, which lasted for some decades, resulted in the production of the 4 Cuadernos, and, later, of the book Escuela de la guitarra – Exposición de la teoría instrumental.
The 5 Preludios Americanos were the first works Carlevaro wrote for solo guitar, between 1969 and 1975. As the title suggests, these works are the composer’s ideal homage to Latin American Music; yet Carlevaro himself did not wish to label each Prelude with a precise reference. In all these works, the composer employs a tripartite form, presenting a well-defined key with key signatures; still, the language he uses eschews every simplistic classification. The composer wisely mixes folkloric elements (tango, milonga, candombe), jazz harmonies and elements strictly pertaining to classical music. Carlevaro’s final result are five works written with great compositional skill, whose musical language is immediate, and displaying the composer’s thorough knowledge of the instrument: the guitar can always play fluidly and use entirely its full timbral and dynamic potential.
In summer 2020 I composed the triptych for solo guitar by the title of Sunset Boulevard – a certainly not unheard-of title! – as a sign of friendship for the Roman guitarist Claudio Giuliani, a performer of excellent quality and a very appreciated scholar. He is not the first, but he is certainly one of the most motivated among the guitarists who juxtaposed their research in the early and classical repertoire with that on the new one.
In its three, different and somewhat contrasting movements, Sunset Boulevard is a work in which the elderly composer’s affections, and his perceptions of the world in which his life is declining, are mixed in the sign of a fading-out of reality, present in mystery and distance. It is neither a grievous journal, nor a series of fantastic evocations; rather, it is the quiet observation of what escapes even one’s long experience, becoming indecipherable (“Io non so più chi va e chi resta”, “I no longer know who goes and who stays”). The rhythmical variants and the contrapuntal intertwining do not belong, then, to a historical past, nor they point to an enlightened or prophetic vision of the future; rather, they are fixed on present time, in the particular belief that music alone cannot solve the enigmas, but it may reflect, in the magic formulas of the guitar’s sound, the resignation and a kind of bliss deriving from the nearing of the “eternal nothing”.
(Angelo Gilardino, Vercelli, 3 August, 2021)
Preludios “Los amores difíciles” –
It is extremely difficult for me to speak about my own music, to reveal how I compose, or to define my style, if such a thing exists. When I compose, I do not always think of the structure in advance. It is the sound which interests me particularly. The sound matter develops in the same fashion as spoken language in a dialogue or soliloquy.
The preludes “Los amores difíciles” (2021) are dedicated to Maestro Claudio Giuliani. I passionately engaged in the project, because I immediately thought of that great one, Italo Calvino. It is a cycle of three pieces, “programmatically” (so to speak) grounded on his stories of the same name, and on the elements of universal philosophy commented by Calvino in his Sei proposte per il prossimo millennio [Six memos for the next millenium].
I think that the idea of including another cycle, such as the Preludios epigramáticos I composed in 1981 (exactly forty years ago), is excellent. Thanks, Maestro Giuliani.
(Leo Brouwer, 3 August 2021)
This story began a long time ago. After many years of a constant improvement in my study of the guitar, I had decided to aim high. I began to attend the studio of Sergio Notaro, my new teacher. At that time, in the early Seventies, the repertoire for classical guitar was beginning to have a very respectable size and variety. The work by Andrés Segovia and many other brilliant interpreters and composers had contributed to give this wealth of possibilities to the instrument. And Sergio who, in a certain sense, was a direct emanation of Segovia, took out from his trunk many musical delicacies.
A composer who immediately conquered me was Heitor Villa-Lobos, possibly because, as had happened with me, he had loved Bach so much. Many of his works revealed this influence; in particular, I found his Five Preludes to be irresistible.
Lo, the guitar preludes.
Much later, when my life as a composer was dedicated to cinema, I decided that I had to spend a little of my enthusiasm for celebrating the instrument I always loved; the form which naturally came to me was precisely that of the Prelude.
In the early Nineties, my first six Preludes for the guitar were born; they were dedicated to a dear friend of mine, Flavio Ciatto, who alas is no more among us.
That was a very challenging and very satisfying compositional experience; from that moment, all of my guitarist friends (including Claudio Giuliani) occasionally tried their hand in performing some of them, giving beautiful and personal interpretations of my Preludes, which always filled me with pride.
When Claudio told me his idea to create a CD project gathering the best Preludes written for the guitar, and that he had included me in his prestigious artistic cast, I jumped on my chair. And I thought that the moment had come, twenty years later, to add a new work to my old experience.
“Preludio n. 7 – Green hope” is a short ode to Hope, a common and important feeling that I thought it opportune to celebrate.
My dedication to Claudio Giuliani is not only the due homage to him who performed it for the first, but it is also a justified and affectionate recognition to a great musician who made, of the guitar, a true life project.
Album notes by Fabio Frizzi
Claudio Giuliani was born in Rome. He began his musical studies with Fabrizio Cardassi and Tancredi Magenta and graduated from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome. He then continued his studies with the guitarist and composer Angelo Gilardino, gaining his postgraduate diploma at the “Accademia Internazionale Superiore di Musica L. Perosi” of Biella.
He has appeared in concert as a soloist, in various chamber ensembles and with orchestra. He has given several premiers of contemporary works, some of which are dedicated to him.
He has published his transcriptions of 82 Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (in two volumes), of 30 Sonatas by Domenico Cimarosa and a critical edition of the 3 Sonatas op. 29 by Anton Diabelli.
His CD recordings include “30 Sonatas by Domenico Cimarosa”, the “3 Sonatas op. 29 by Anton Diabelli” and the “25 Studies op. 38” by Napoléon Coste.
In 2018, he received the “Premio Internazionale Domenico Cimarosa” for his works on the composer from Aversa.
Angelo Gilardino was born in 1941 in Vercelli (North-West of Italy) where he later studied (guitar, violoncello and composition) in the local music schools. His concert career, which lasted from 1958 to 1981, had a great influence on the development of the guitar as an instrument in the ‘limelight’ in the twentieth century. Indeed, he gave premiere performances of hundreds of new compositions dedicated to him by composers from all over the world. In 1967 Edizioni Musicali Bèrben appointed him to supervise what has become the most important collection of music for guitar of the twentieth century and which bears his name.
In 1981 Gilardino retired from concert work to devote his time to composition, teaching and musicological research.
Since 1982 he has published an extensive collection of his own compositions: Studi di virtuosità e di trascendenza, which John W. Duarte hailed as “milestones in the new repertoire of the classical guitar”, Sonatas, Variations, four concertos for solo guitar and guitar groups, seventeen concertos with orchestra and fifteen works of chamber music. His works are frequently performed and recorded.
His contribution to teaching began with the Liceo Musicale “G.B. Viotti” in Vercelli where he taught from 1965 to 1981 followed by an appointment as professor at the “Antonio Vivaldi” Conservatory in Alessandria from 1981 to 2004. From 1984 to 2003 he held post-graduate courses at the “Lorenzo Perosi” Accademia Superiore Internazionale di Musica in Biella.
He has also held 200 courses, seminars and master classes in various European countries at the invitation of universities, academies, conservatories, music associations and festivals.
As a musicologist he has made a considerable contribution to the guitar repertoire of the first half of the twentieth century with the discovery and publication of important works which were either unknown or considered as lost, such as Ottorino Respighi’s Variazioni per chitarra, the Sonata para guitarra by Antonio José and a large corpus of guitar works written for Andrés Segovia by Spanish, French and British composers during the Twenties and the Thirties. Since 2002 he has edited the publication of these works (32 volumes) in The Andrés Segovia Archive, published by Edizioni Musicali Bèrben. He also reconstructed the concerto for guitar and orchestra by the Russian composer Boris Asafiev, published by Editions Orphée, and he orchestrated the Hommage à Manuel de Falla by the Polish-French composer Alexandre Tansman, left unfinished by its author. The rescue of these works and their subsequent publication has given new substance to the historical repertoire of the twentieth century. Besides, he created new settings for Guitar and Orchestra of famous items of the repertoire for solo guitar.
In 1997 he was appointed as artistic director of the “Andrés Segovia” Foundation of Linares, Spain, a charge which he left at the end of 2005.
In 1998 he was awarded the “Marengo Music” prize of the Conservatory of Alessandria. The Italian Guitar Congress awarded him the prize “Golden Guitar” three times (1997, 1998, 2000), respectively for his compositions, his teaching and his musicological research. In 2009, he was an inductee of the “Artistic Achievement Award – Hall of Fame” of the Guitar Foundation of America. In 2011 the Guitar Festival of Córdoba (Spain) entitled to him the “Jornadas de Estudio” with dedicating concerts and lectures to his works. In 2018, he received career awards from Rome Expo Guitars and from Conservatorio di Musica “Luigi Cherubini” in Florence.
He has written and published biographies of Andrés Segovia and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and two books dealing with the principles of guitar technique. He has published a handbook for the benefit of those composers wishing to write for the guitar but who are not familiar with the intricacies of this instrument. He has also published a handbook of guitar history, a volume entitled La chitarra and a considerable number of essays and articles.
Leo Brouwer: (b Havana, 1 March 1939). Cuban composer, guitarist and conductor. In 1953 he began his studies in the guitar with Isaac Nicola, founder of the Cuban guitar school, and in 1955 he made his performance début. In the same year, and self-taught, he started to compose (e.g. Música para guitarra, cuerdas y percusión and Suite no.1 for guitar); his first works were published in 1956. He was awarded a grant (1959) for advanced guitar studies at the music department of the University of Hartford and for composition at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, where he was taught by Isadora Freed, J. Diemente, Joseph Iadone, Persichetti and Wolpe. In 1960 he started working in cinema, as head of the department of music in the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC); he has written scores for more than 60 films. He was involved in setting up (1969) and running the Grupo de Experimentación Sonora at ICAIC, becoming the teacher and mentor of its members, who included Silvio Rodríguez, Milanés and other important figures of contemporary Cuban music. He worked as musical adviser for Radio Habana Cuba (1960–68) and for other Cuban institutions, and taught counterpoint, harmony and composition at the Conservatorio Municipal in Havana (1960–67). His book Síntesis de la armonía contemporánea was a core text in his classes.
Together with the composers Juan Blanco and Carlos Fariñas and the conductor Manuel Duchesne Cuzán, Brouwer launched the avant-garde music movement in Cuba in the 1960s. He has been the most significant promoter of the bi-annual Havana Concurso y Festival de Guitarra, and in 1981 he was appointed principal conductor of the Cuban National SO. He has also conducted many other foreign orchestras including the Berlin PO and the Orquesta de Córdoba, Spain, which, under his direction, was formed in 1992. He is a member of the Berlin Akademie der Künste, of UNESCO, of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes Nuestra Señora de la Angustias in Granada (1996) and Honoris Causa Professor of Art at the Instituto Superior de Arte de Cuba (1996). For his contribution to the Cuban and international music scenes he was awarded the Orden Félix Varela, the highest honour granted by the Cuban state for culture.
Three phases can be identified in Brouwer’s work: the first, nationalistic (1955–62); the second, avant-garde (1962–7); and a third in which avant garde elements diminish and, particularly after 1980, a creative process described by the composer as ‘new simplicity’ emerges. The first phase is characterized by the use of traditional musical forms, including sonata and variation form, and by tonal harmonic structures rooted in nationalism (e.g. in Homenaje a Manuel de Falla (1957), Tres danzas concertantes (1958) and, Elegía a Jesús Menéndes (1960), among others). During this phase, despite the prevailing use of tonality, a tendency to structural fragmentation may be discerned, as well as the employment of several simultaneous tonal centres, a device that has remained throughout his output.
Though never lacking formal rigour, Brouwer’s works have in general sprung more from a sonic conception: ‘I use any form to help me find musical forms: that of a leaf, of a tree or geometric symbolisms. All these are also musical forms; despite the fact that my works appear very structured, what interests me is sound’. This concentration on the sensory, and an accompanying use of extra-musical formal sources, is most to the fore in Brouwer’s second phase, which was, with the Cuban avant garde in general, heavily influenced by the Polish school; he first heard this music at the Warsaw Autumn in 1961. Variantes for solo percussion and in particular Sonograma I for prepared piano typify this phase, which also included a brief turn towards serialism, in works such as Sonograma II and Arioso (Homenaje a Charles Mingus). Basic materials frequently comprise intervals of the 2nd, 4th and 7th and chords of superimposed 6ths, 9ths, 11ths and 13ths. Complex polyphonic textures dominate, with thematic independence retained within the different planes of sound, and a resultant richness in rhythmic conjunction. Other common devices include pedals, ostinatos, sequences and melodic and rhythmic echoing. One of Brouwer’s most important avant-garde works, which has become a major piece of the guitar literature, is the solo Elogio de la danza (1964). In two movements – Lento and Ostenato – it was originally composed for dance with choreography by Luis Trápaga; it makes reference to primitive dances and to mysticism, and conveys an image of stamping feet and gyrations together with other dance elements.
Between 1967 and 1969 such works as Rem tene verba sequentur, Cántigas del tiempo nuevo and La tradición se rompe …, pero cuesta trabajo approach what would now be the postmodern, characterized by sharply defined contrasts in structure and texture and employing references to various historical periods. In La tradición se rompe …, pero cuesta trabajo, for example, the interpolation and superimposition of elements of such composers as Bach and Beethoven in a suggestive heterophony borders on caricature; further, the participation of the audience is invited with a persistent ‘sh’. All this is integrated into a process of thematic and instrumental development that evolves through a powerful, controlled aleatorism.
In the 1970s Brouwer continued to work on post-serial and aleatory ideas, for instance in La espiral eterna for guitar. But by the 1980s a ‘new simplicity’ had begun to take hold, involving neo-Romantic, minimalist and newly tonal elements. There is a marked lyricism in this third period, the use of varying nuclear cells to generate development, and the return of traditional forms exemplified in works like Canciones remotas, Manuscrito antiguo encontrado en una botella and La región más trasparente.