Catalogue No: HN782
Shop Product Code: 247944V
Chants d'Espagne, Op232 , for piano solo with fingering from Rolf Koenen.
In good nineteenth-century tradition, Isaac Albéniz (1860–1909) fulfilled two roles at the same time. On the one hand a brilliant virtuoso pianist and celebrated interpreter of the classic-romantic repertoire, he was on the other a composer of a large body of works for piano covering every genre including the sonata and concerto (but clearly centered on the lyrical piano piece). Yet the relation between performance and composition shifted as his career progressed: if composing was at first merely an appendage to his pianistic exploits, his concert appearances gradually receded in importance. From 1890 on Albéniz devoted himself primarily to stage works and largely avoided composing for the piano. Only in the final years of his life, with Iberia, did he return once again expressly to his chosen instrument.
Chants d’Espagne originated for the most part at the beginning of the 1890s, when Albéniz lived for a while in London. The collection may be said to mark the end of a line of development, being one of the last piano works that he saw into print before turning seriously to opera. The first three pieces were published in 1892, with numbers 4 and 5 following in 1897. Albéniz took the two outside numbers from his Suite Espagnole, the movements of which, though not published in their entirety until 1901, had been composed and in some cases issued in print during the 1880s.
Chants d’Espagne gathers together all of the features that distinguish Albeniz's piano music: the form of the miniature character piece, the varied and colourful writing for piano, and a folk-song inflection with a Spanish tinge. Dance pieces play a particularly important role: Prélude (no. 1) adopts elements of flamenco, Sous le Palmier (no. 3) is a habanera, and the title of the final number, Seguidillas, indicates a Spanish folk verse form often associated with dance songs (note the clear emphasis on typical castanet rhythms). Echoes of dance music are equally unmistakable in numbers 2 and 4, which express a longing for the “exotic” through their titles or a brief text prefixed to the music.
None of the five pieces has come down to us in an autograph manuscript. The principal source for our edition is therefore the original print published by J. B. Pujol y Cia, with its fairly meticulous musical text. The work was later reissued by Pujol’s various legal successors, always using the plates of the first edition and making only marginal alterations.
The editor wishes to thank the libraries mentioned in the commentary at the end of the volume for kindly placing copies of the sources at his disposal. He is equally indebted to the publishing house of Friedrich Hofmeister for answering questions regarding the German edition of 1926. Jorge Ferreyra helped him with Spanish, and discussed several questions relating to piano technique.
Berlin, spring 2004
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Sous le Palmier
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