Project Description

Supported by The Consulate General of Spain in Hong Kong SAR and Macau

Enrique Granados 150th Anniversary Concert

Venue: Theatre, Hong Kong City Hall
Date: 13/9/2017, 8PM
Venue: Dom Pedro V Theatre, Macau
Date: 15/9/2017, 8PM

ENRIQUE GRANADOS (1867-1916)

A pianist and composer, Enrique Granados’s music is uniquely Spanish. This special concert celebrates his life and work on the occasion of his 150th anniversary. The programme consists of piano and voice selections from: “Goyescas”, “Tonadillas”, “Danzas Españolas”, “Canciones Amatorias” and individual songs.

These pieces are embed with the sounds, rhythms and passions of Granados’s native Spain. This once-in-a-generation concert is presented by Musica Viva and the Consulate-General of Spain in Hong Kong and Macau and is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Banco Santander.

Programme

1. Five songs from ‘Tonadillas’
La maja dolorosa, nos.1, 2, 3
El tra-la-lá y el punteado
El mirar de la maja

Originally, in the 18th century, popular or comic songs for the stage to be accompanied by music, “tonadilla” came to describe light compositions for voice and piano. In the case of Grandos’s tonadillas, he just tried to recreate a period and a style.

With texts by Fernando Periquet, rather, the songs are made to help the music and not the other way around. The Tonadillas are linked with Goyescas, as Garcia Amat points out, as they try to recreate the particular ambiance of Madrid in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that Goya reflected in his works, “from the gentle colour of the cartoons for tapestries, to the dramatism of the Caprices or Disparates.”

La maja de Goya, the maiden by Goya, musically a tonadilla, a sort of popular song. Technically it is not part of Goyescas, but obviously as well this is a very Goyesque painting. In reality there were two paintings by Goya, the Maja desnuda and the Maja vestida, the naked lady and the dressed lady. Both paintings can also be seen at the Prado Museum side by side.

Carol Lin, mezzo-soprano
Ming Kwong, piano

2. Three dances from ‘Danzas Españolas’
Danza Villanesca
Danza Aragonesa
Danza Valenciana

The piano suite Danzas Espanolas (Spanish Dances) was the first major work by Granados and his first great success. Published in 1890, right after Granados came back from Paris where he had studied and worked for two years, it seems likely he had begun composing them there. Granados started composing this work, therefore, when he was only around 21 or 22. Considering that Granados has largely taught himself composition, the lasting success of Danzas Espana/as is a great achievement indeed.

Granados only named four out of the twelve dances: Villanesca, Oriental, Andaluza and Rondalla aragonesa. The rest were titled by the publisher afterwards: as result some of the regional names and headings are somewhat artificial The music does not strictly follow the particular tradition of each and every region so named. These twelve sections are a personal interpretation by Granados of the essence of Spanish folk music, in all its variety.

There is always something Oriental in Spanish music, a legacy of the centuries of Moorish presence in Spain and the appeal for gypsy music. Aragon brings a particular dance and music-the “jota”-to mind. One of the most distinctive folk tunes from the region appears in the background. However, although many
think that this dance is exclusively original from this region, it is not. In its many varieties, the jota is omnipresent in Castille and Andalucia, and is perhaps the most common dance.

Valenciana makes reference to the Mediterranean-facing eastern region of the Iberian Peninsula, whose musical tradition has always been and continues to be strong. The Andaluza (Andalusian) dance, perhaps the most popular, clearly shows its regional roots. The South has a rich, strong and distinctive musical heritage, although often over-simplified in an attempt to encapsulate all Spanish music under the Andalusian label. This risk of stereotyping was also present during the times of Granados, and he complained that “the music of my country is more complex and subtle.”

Danzas espanolas made an impact beyond the borders of Spain. In France, Massenet and Saint-Saens wrote highly of these pieces, and both remained supporters of Granados’s music; Massenet called Granados “the Spanish Grieg”. The Russian musicologist Cesar Cui, a theorist of nationalist music, praised the piece highly as though it represented his own theories, which in turn Granados complimented with a dedication of the dance number seven, Valenciana.

Crystal Lam, piano

3. ‘Canciones Amatorias’
Descúbrase el pensamiento de mi secreto cuidado
Mañanica era
Llorad, corazón, que tenéis razón
Mira que soy niña, ¡amor, déjame!
No lloréis, ojuelos
Iban al pinar
Gracia mía

Settings upon classic texts, some anonymous from the medieval Romancero, (collections of ancient ballads). some by the great literary luminaries of the Golden Age: Uorad Corazon que teneis raz6n by Luis de Gongora ( 1561-1627) and No lloreis ojuelos by Lope de Vega (1562-1635).

Phoebe Tam, soprano
Ming Kwong, piano

4. Two dances from ‘Danzas Españolas’
Danza Oriental
Danza Andaluza

The piano suite Danzas Espanolas (Spanish Dances) was the first major work by Granados and his first great success. Published in 1890, right after Granados came back from Paris where he had studied and worked for two years, it seems likely he had begun composing them there. Granados started composing this work, therefore, when he was only around 21 or 22. Considering that Granados has largely taught himself composition, the lasting success of Danzas Espana/as is a great achievement indeed.

Granados only named four out of the twelve dances: Villanesca, Oriental, Andaluza and Rondalla aragonesa. The rest were titled by the publisher afterwards: as result some of the regional names and headings are somewhat artificial The music does not strictly follow the particular tradition of each and every region so named. These twelve sections are a personal interpretation by Granados of the essence of Spanish folk music, in all its variety.

There is always something Oriental in Spanish music, a legacy of the centuries of Moorish presence in Spain and the appeal for gypsy music. Aragon brings a particular dance and music-the “jota”-to mind. One of the most distinctive folk tunes from the region appears in the background. However, although many
think that this dance is exclusively original from this region, it is not. In its many varieties, the jota is omnipresent in Castille and Andalucia, and is perhaps the most common dance.

Valenciana makes reference to the Mediterranean-facing eastern region of the Iberian Peninsula, whose musical tradition has always been and continues to be strong. The Andaluza (Andalusian) dance, perhaps the most popular, clearly shows its regional roots. The South has a rich, strong and distinctive musical heritage, although often over-simplified in an attempt to encapsulate all Spanish music under the Andalusian label. This risk of stereotyping was also present during the times of Granados, and he complained that “the music of my country is more complex and subtle.”

Danzas espanolas made an impact beyond the borders of Spain. In France, Massenet and Saint-Saens wrote highly of these pieces, and both remained supporters of Granados’s music; Massenet called Granados “the Spanish Grieg”. The Russian musicologist Cesar Cui, a theorist of nationalist music, praised the piece highly as though it represented his own theories, which in turn Granados complimented with a dedication of the dance number seven, Valenciana.

Crystal Lam, piano

5. Five songs from ‘Tonadillas’
Callejeo
Amor y odio
El majo discreto
El majo tímido
La maja de Goya

Originally, in the 18th century, popular or comic songs for the stage to be accompanied by music, “tonadilla” came to describe light compositions for voice and piano. In the case of Grandos’s tonadillas, he just tried to recreate a period and a style.

With texts by Fernando Periquet, rather, the songs are made to help the music and not the other way around. The Tonadillas are linked with Goyescas, as Garcia Amat points out, as they try to recreate the particular ambiance of Madrid in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that Goya reflected in his works, “from the gentle colour of the cartoons for tapestries, to the dramatism of the Caprices or Disparates.”

La maja de Goya, the maiden by Goya, musically a tonadilla, a sort of popular song. Technically it is not part of Goyescas, but obviously as well this is a very Goyesque painting. In reality there were two paintings by Goya, the Maja desnuda and the Maja vestida, the naked lady and the dressed lady. Both paintings can also be seen at the Prado Museum side by side.

Carol Lin, mezzo-soprano
Ming Kwong, piano

6. Two Catalan songs
L’ocell profeta
Elegia eterna

L’ocell profeta and Elegia eterna are songs in Catalan, could be considered as representatives of Modernisme yet they belong in the late Romantic tradition of Wagner and Liszt.”Ocell” means bird, a lieder (song for solo voice and piano) text by Comtessa de Castella, first performed in 1911.

Phoebe Tam, soprano
Ming Kwong, piano

7. From the suite ‘Goyescas’
El fandango de candil
La maja y el ruiseñor
El pelele

The piano suite Goyescas is Granados’s last major cycle and his true masterpiece. In this composition, Granados went back to the Spanish popular music tradition but through the lens of one of the greatest Spanish artists of all times, the painter Goya.

Francisco de Goya ( 1746-1828) belongs to a much earlier generation, long before Granados was born. But in Granados’s time there was a revival of Goya and a new appreciation of his talent. Although Goya is a manifestation of Spanish culture, he also “created”, so to speak, or expanded Spanish culture as well, for Goya unites popular and high culture. He is one of the painters that have enriched Spanish life with a sets of images and metaphors that every Spaniard is well acquainted with.

Goya was a genius and there are many facets to his work, from the historical and the political. to popular scenes of street life featuring ordinary people. It is precisely these more popular subjects that attracted the attention of Granados: Goya’s pictures of festivals, dances, and popular characters who become archetypal, the majo or maja: streetwise characters, daring, dashing, and protagonists of the demi-monde.

These apparently lighter subjects may be deceptive: Goya is a complex and difficult artist, and so was Granados at this point. In fact, this piano suite is entirely different in character to his former work. Walter Clark of the University of California at Irving, and author of the most authoritative book on Granados, says that behind the composition of Goyescas, published in 1910, two tragic events might have inspired and prompted this musical composition. Revolutionary demonstrations erupted in Barcelona in July 1909, known as Tragic Week; they were violently repressed. And then a more personal loss, that of his friend Isaac Albeniz, who had been like an elder brother to Granados. And there are indeed parallels between Albeniz’s Iberia and Goyescas.

In his own words, Granados said: “I should like to give a personal note in Goyescas, a mixture of bitterness and grace, and I desire that neither of these two phases should predominate over the other in an atmosphere of delicate poetry.” He was well aware that Goyescas was his main accomplishment, a work of “great flights of imagination and difficulty”, he said. “Goyescas is a work for the ages, I am convinced of that”.

Granados was directly inspired by famous Goya painting, El Pelele (the straw man). now housed in Madrid’s Museo de] Prado. This is a c qrtoon painted as a model or template for the royal tapestries. It shows a life-sized straw man being tossed in the air by a blanket held by some young women, a kind of game in a popular festival, but for which many far more complex interpretations-Ladies tossing a man?-have been offered.

Premiered at the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona in 1911, it was its performance in 1914 at the Salle Pleyel in Paris that brought Granados worldwide acclaim. The Grand Opera of Paris made him an offer to arrange an opera, which with the outbreak of the WWI was eventually premiered at the Met. Garcfa Amat says La maja y el ruisenor can be considered a synthesis of the poetic sentiment of Granados.

Crystal Lam, piano

Programme notes provided by Juan Morales.

Artists

Programme Note

Please refer to the notes embedded in “Programme”.