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La Noche Pura: Canciones Hispanas y Españolas (Baltimore)

  • 302 E Federal St Baltimore, MD 21202 (map)

A concert of vocal music celebrating the beautiful poetry of the Spanish language, both in the Americas and in Spain. With music by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera, Latin-American composer Gabriela Frank, and American composer Peter Dayton, this program of music for voice and strings showcases the poetry of Juan Ramón Jiménez, Rafael Alberti, Federico García Lorca, and Pablo Neruda, as well anonymous 16th century gypsy lyrics.
Featuring sopranos Katie Procell, Lauren Vanden Broeck, Jerram John, and the Bergamot Quartet.
Program:
Alberto Ginastera - String Quartet No. 3
Peter Dayton - Si Solamente, Tres Canciones de Pablo Neruda
Gabriela Lena Frank - Iberian Songs
Presented at Studio 5N (302 E Federal St, Baltimore, MD)
Tickets available at the door the night of the concert. Doors open at 7:30 PM.
General Admission $15, Students & Seniors $10

About Ginastera String Quartet No. 3 (notes by Joseph Stevenson, from AllMusic): Taking a cue from Arnold Schoenberg, who admitted the voice into the medium of the string quartet, Ginastera wrote his Third Quartet in the form of a song cycle for soprano and quartet. Only the second movement is for the instruments alone. In our list of movements, we have given Ginastera's titles, the identity of the poet and name of the poetic work from which the words were drawn, and the incipit of the poem.

Ginastera started work on the quartet shortly after he settled permanently in Geneva. It was commissioned by the Public Library and Chamber Music Society of Dallas, with Benita Valente, soprano, and the Juilliard Quartet. By this time Ginastera had passed through the second style period of his music (marked by much use of the twelve-tone system) and adopted free use of many modernist techniques. This quartet uses aleatory passages, playing on the opposite side of the bridge, indeterminate notes (such as an instruction to play the "highest note possible," slow wobbling wide vibratos, and micro-tonal intervals.

The first movement is delicate and wispy; the soprano alternates between speaking and singing and is told at times to let certain words drop out unvoiced. The scherzo is in a fantastic vein, with disturbed imagery. The third movement is sensuously lyrical. The fourth movement, on the horrors of war, is the most dramatic. In it the soprano must imitate the dog howling for its slain master. The fifth movement regains the mood of the opening section and requires a remarkably sustained final note from the soprano.

About Si Solamente (Notes by the Composer): These settings of Pablo Neruda’s poetry represent my first foray into non-English text setting in nearly a decade. Now, however, with these settings commissioned by Lauren Van Den Broek and Robert Kaufman, I have finally ventured into the rich poetry of South America. Neruda’s poetry ranges from the pastoral to the romantic and evocative, encompassing worlds in his apostrophes and images. The first poem, from Neruda’s “Canto General,” serves as a fitting opening to the song cycle. Address everyone “a todos, a vosotros,” earthly beings and spirits of the night, Neruda describes a universe of addressees for his songs, natural and human. The barcarolle, from “Residencia en la Tierra,” is a melancholy sea-scape of deeply romantic tone, mixing the desire of an unknown speaker who seems herself a sea-spirit, personifying loneliness and isolation in the setting of a desolate shore. The final poem, “Me gustas cuando callas,” is written in a rhyming, strophic manner that suggests, if not outright demands, a ballad-like setting. Starting with the unexpected premise that the poet likes it best when his beloved is quiet because they then seem absent, the ballad expands on the idea of desire and longing being predicated on distance, that the quietude of the lover fills the poet with the gratitude of being in love.

About Iberian Songs (Notes by the Composer): Iberian Songs, for soprano and string quartet, finds its voice in several existing publications of the poetry of Spanish "deep song," a primary source of lyrics for modern-day flamenco. Largely anonymous, these short, almost haiku-like, poems are intensely emotional with an affinity for certain recurring themes such as romantic attraction, the seeking of vengeance for the death of a loved one, and persecution from the authorities. I was struck by how often several poems could be edited and stitched together beautifully into a larger poem; and I used my edited texts (and my own translations) as the basis of Iberian Songs. In the first song, "Olives," a woman describes, with frustration and lyricism both, how her passion for a would-be-paramour is unfulfilled. The second song, "Children," describes a mother's particularly grim situation that arises between her son and daughter.

Earlier Event: October 4
Alla Balena Ensemble