January - February
Legends of the Andes
String quartet N1 op.20 A. Ginastera
Allegro violento ed agitato
Calmo e poetico
Tenebrae O. Golijov
Leyendas: an Andean Walkabout G.L. Frank
Himno de Zampoñas
Canto de Velorio
Sasha Callahan and Katherine Winterstein, violins
Alexander Vavilov, viola
Leo Eguchi, cello
Alberto Ginastera has just returned back to Argentina from the United States, where he was studying with Aaron Copland, when he wrote his first string quartet. As was typical for Ginastera’s music of that period, this quartet is created using a great deal of traditional Argentinian dance and song music. The bold and driving rhythms of the Gaucho dance in the first movement give way to hushed but tense fleeting gestures of the second, portraying the Malambo - a virtuoso dance competition between two men. The ponderous slow movement, often evoking the slow strumming of the open guitar strings, unfolds slowly, taking time to reveal its full significance and setting up the stage for the decisive finale. The guitars are invoked yet again this time with a driving urgency and incessant energy.
Osvaldo Golijov on Tenebrae:
"I wrote Tenebrae as a consequence of witnessing two contrasting realities in a short period of time in September 2000. I was in Israel at the start of the new wave of violence that is still continuing today, and a week later I took my son to the new planetarium in New York, where we could see the Earth as a beautiful blue dot in space. I wanted to write a piece that could be listened to from different perspectives. That is, if one chooses to listen to it "from afar", the music would probably offer a "beautiful" surface but, from a metaphorically closer distance, one could hear that, beneath that surface, the music is full of pain. I lifted some of the haunting melismas from Couperin's Troisieme Leçon de Tenebrae, using them as sources for loops, and wrote new interludes between them, always within a pulsating, vibrating, aerial texture. The compositional challenge was to write music that would sound as an orbiting spaceship that never touches ground. After finishing the composition, I realized that Tenebrae could be heard as the slow, quiet reading of an illuminated medieval manuscript in which the appearances of the voice singing the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet (from Yod to Nun, as in Couperin) signal the beginning of new chapters, leading to the ending section, built around a single, repeated word: Jerusalem."
Andean folk styles and western traditions intertwine freely in Leyendas: an Andean walkabout. Through the six movements we get to explore the rich soundscape of Andean traditional music, its exotic instruments and singing styles – all brought to life using a string quartet, one of the most traditional European mediums. Panpipes, duct flutes, guitars, bamboo flutes, funeral criers and more guitars! All of these are depicted with uncanny inventiveness and are used to create the most enticing characters. Fiery, reflective, invocative, fleeting, zesty, ponderous. Gabriela Lena Frank’s imagination and artistic sense are truly limitless.