MUSIC FOR CONCERT BAND
VERSOS LIBRES PARA PIANO IMPROVISADO Y BANDA
We reproduce below the programme notes of the début of the work Versos libres para piano improvisado y banda (Free verses for improvised piano and concert band), which premièred on 29 April 2021, in the auditorium of the Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga Music Conservatory (Bilbao):
Versos libres para piano improvisado y banda carries in its title the weight of an intended hymn to artistic freedom, for centuries so often claimed in the field of artistic and musical creation.
The work, the result of the author’s creative effort over a month and a half (between February and March 2021), reflects the continuous search for a personal language which, in the form of different projects, always tries to synthesise different musical trends.
The essence of the work deals with the ambition of achieving a symbiosis – if only symbolically, ephemerally or even unsuccessfully – of such different worlds within the musical panorama as free improvisation, written composition and guided improvisation (the latter developed through techniques such as Conduction, Soundpainting and a personal translation of them).
Although, as indicated in the title “for improvised piano and concert band”, the work in appearance has some features of the concertante genre, this only serves as an excuse for the experimentation that the composer seeks in the overall scope of the composition.
From a formal point of view, the work is concentrated in a single movement, divided into three sections. In each of them, an atmosphere or framework is created for the piano soloist – whose part is totally improvised – accompanied at certain moments by the parts written for the band. Thus, one can sense sounds that in a way emulate nocturnal urban environments, nature itself, human tension and conflicts, and even the description of the psychological sensations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
All these sounds alternate with small transitions written for the wind or percussion sections, which help to give shape and unity to the piece. As for musical heights, the work is conceived in a context with an absence of tonality that includes some passages of a modal nature.
The solo piano represents the role of free improvisation that interacts with the band, which is not only given the function of accompanying the soloist with the interpretation of the written part.
In fact, one of the main features of the piece is the freedom offered to the performer within the score, where the open writing also leaves room for improvisation, in this case controlled or guided by the composer and the conductor.
In short, it is an attempt to bring together different worlds where control and freedom sometimes go hand in hand, while at other times it seems that each world lives with its back to the other, and all of this is hidden under the formal plan of a semi-written composition.
Finally, Versos Libres also wants to be an invitation to reflect on how musicians are perceived in our society, and what roles are still traditionally encouraged in some sectors of the profession, starting with the rigid classification of professional specialities, based on musical education.
In a world as diverse and changing as today’s, we should at least rethink the meaning and timeliness of these assumed roles.
PEQUEÑO ROND DE JAMBE
Pequeño Rond de Jambe (Small Rond de Jambe) is a work created using a piano piece that the author had written to be performed in the dance classes in which he worked as a piano accompanist. He decided to orchestrate it for symphonic band when he had the opportunity to present it to the public, together with the work Versos Libres.
The work is dedicated to the Basque Higher School of Performance Arts, Dantzerti, where he worked for three years as a pianist, and was premièred as an extra on International Dance Day (2021), after the presentation of Versos Libres.
It is inspired by the rhythmic pattern of the rond de jambe par terre, a classical dance exercise in ternary time that is commonly practised in dance classes.
The piece, which lasts about four minutes, is built on simple chords permeated with a deep character that set the mood of the work. The structure contains: introduction, theme (A, B), improvised piano solo, and final Coda with blues and jazz influences. Despite having a certain melancholic and dreamy air, the work is intended to convey a state of spiritual elevation.