Sunday, February 12, 2006

Homenaje Écrite Pour Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy

This piece of music represents one of the first modern compositions written for the guitar by a non-guitarist in the twentieth century - renowned Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. The work revealed his admiration and affection for Claude Debussy with its persistent habanera rhythm as heard in the latter's Puerta del Viño from his Preludes (Book 2) and a quote from La Soirée Dans Grenade to end the piece.

This modern music captured my attention quite some time ago with her ability to evoke the most colourful scenes of Spain, tinted with the pallet of French impressionism. The analysis by Suzanne Demarquez summed this masterpiece up pretty decently:
Falla's piece is a funeral dirge, a symbolic threnody, so frequent in Spanish poetry, influenced by the musical essence and spirit of his departed friend. Its harmony rests on the fundamental fourth of the typical - and so beautiful - chord of the guitar, E-A-D-G-B. Falla places a short rhythmic phrase on this fourth, a kind of muted and bitter lamentation which resounds like a knell throughout the piece. Several echoes of Ibéria (a symphonic poem by Debussy) form the beginning of a theme, a brief motif in triplets marked by the characteristic chromaticism and the augmented second. The special resources of the guitar are skilfully exploited through the arpeggios, very open chords, glissando scales, punteado effects and octave harmonics.
And of course, Demarquez describes this most beautiful ending section which...
sets in bold relief, like a brief ray of moonlight, the clear appareance of a textual citation of the habanera motif, evoking La Soirée Dans Grenade. It is followed by a brief pause. The knell sounds for the last time and gradually fades away in the silence.
How apt has Demarquez put it. Though this piece of music that lasts just slightly over three minutes, listening to it is a heart-stirring experience as the emotional intensity of this music manifests itself by grabbing your full attention.

And of course, this masterpiece will soon be in my repertoire... =)

6 comments:

Hucbald said...

Hi Jeff,

I too like that piece, but I've never looked for an edition of it, so I don't know what's available, or which ones are even good or bad. When you fid a good edition of it, let me know, as I'd like to learn that too. Thanks

George

solitudex said...

Hi George,

I'm currently using the one published by Chanterelle under the series "The Guitar Works Of Miguel Llobet" edited by Ronald Purcell. This work forms the volume 5 of this series. It might be misleading but what this series actually focuses on are actually Miguel Llobet's own compositions as well as his transcriptions.

I have a preference for the earliest authentic editions of compositions available. For this particular work, the earliest edition of it appeared in 1920, without any signs of fingering or editing by anyone. The second edition appeared in 1923, edited by Llobet. Unfortunately later, it was realised that there were a few printing errors in this edition and in the next few editions that followed, dynamics, expressions, fingerings and even the bass lines were problematic.

The edition of the work I currently was published in 1989 and is a critical edition - one that seeks to determine the composer's true intentions through a scholarly comparison of various sources. In this edition, the previous few problematic editions are printed together with it and the similarities and discrepanncies are analysed to determine the one with the greatest validity.

As such, I personally prefer this edition of it by Chanterelle Verlag. If you're planning to get it online, I'll recommend http://www.spanishguitar.com. The publisher's website doesn't seem to be selling it. =)

Jeff

Hucbald said...

Thanks!

Michael Manning said...

Jeff: I recall this vaguely from my years in Classical Radio. I invite you to stop by my site for the film I've chosen on "Friday Movie Suggestion Nights"--a special I do on Thursdays. You will be delighted.

okusan said...

Dear Sirs;

I saw your website, I was very interrested in the early music and History of
Instrument.
I am a scholar of Arpeggione in the Japanese.
Recently, I made up the web site of "Arpeggione-World ",
A new URL is the following: http://arpeggione.web.fc2.com/
I would like to introduce an article in your website as the
page of Arpeggione-Link.
I am researching this thing such as musicology of Arpeggione sonata which
Schubert composed in the history of Arpeggione.
Then, I am making the instrument Arpeggione as an original model, too.
I am looking for the information of early music instrument, including Violin
guitarre, Arpeggione collection.

Yours sincerely

Arpeggione Society, Japan
President Osamu Okumura Ph.D.

Anonymous said...

I am a guitarist from Romania,and I am studying right now Falla's Homenaje...it is a very beautiful work,funeral and passionate in the same time...best wishes from Alexandra-Romania