Leading up to the concert on 6 October, Jayant S from the Pune Guitar Society tells us a little bit more about the music they will perform, the performers and how the event came into place
Leo Brouwer is an overarching persona in the world of the classical guitar. His enormous compositional output has some music for everyone from the beginning student to some of the most renowned modern concert guitarists.
The PGS has long wished to present the music of Leo Brouwer to audiences that may not have heard of him, and the opportunity to collaborate with pianists has been an additional privilege. After a concert earlier in 2017 that saw an interspersed program featuring solo guitar and piano music, with essentially “Iberian-influenced” repertoire, we decided to close in on Brouwer for the next event.
The resultant program, which will be presented at the Mazda Hall in Pune on 6 October 2017, represents a cross-sectional choice from Leo Brouwer’s music. Working with the pianists, it became possible for us to not restrict ourselves to solo guitar repertoire, but to take up larger scale works.
The recital begins with Un Die de Noviembre, which was adapted by the composer from the ensemble score he prepared for the eponymous Cuban film of 1972. Kuldeep, who will perform this short but thematically complete piece, initially discovered Leo Brouwer through his film scores, and has since been very interested in the visual character prevalent in all his music. Kuldeep is also a close follower of film history and narratives, and this allows him to instil a very original approach to interpretation.
The PGS has been fortunate in having Kabir Dabholkar move to Pune a year ago. An enthusiastic and capable guitarist, Kabir is a very capable performer with a knowledge of context and expression that belies his age, and has added substantial propulsion to all PGS recitals since he joined. He will be performing the first movement of Brouwer’s Retrats Catalan, which is set in a minor key but includes several modulations, dissonant chords and hints of Brouwer’s favourite Lydian tonalities. The piece alludes to Catalan folk songs (in particular, El Mestre). Meghana Dharap is playing the piano reduction. It was most interesting to watch the music unfold for her, and she became deeply involved with every note of the piano reduction, which she can express with considerable sensitivity and a well-considered understanding of the orchestral textures that are implied. For her, Brouwer and his music were completely unfamiliar, but the process of discovery was a joy.
Kabir will also perform the Estudio XX which is one of Leo Brouwer’s supposedly “technical training” works. It is much more than that, with its near-pesante opening chords followed by a light and rapid slur section which features several increasingly complex, repeated modules.
The Concerto Elegiaco, which is possibly the most-recorded of Brouwer’s eleven concertos (to date), was originally written for Julian Bream. The piano reduction was arranged by the composer himself, which has unambiguously transformed it into a piano/guitar duet. In an interview with Kuldeep late last year, David Russell recalled this version with enthusiasm, as: “There are not many pieces which you can do piano and guitar… it is always a bit of a struggle… But Leo’s piece really works well for the piano/guitar.”
This time, the performance will feature Rose E on the piano. With her dual backgrounds in extensive jazz performance and a continued study of classical music, Rose is able to bring a unique, spontaneous colour to the generally sombre and occasionally extremely dark piano parts. The apparently bright Finale in particular, with its underlying solemnity and eventual return to the pesante section from Movement 1, gave her an opportunity to exploit the range of the piano. For me, on the guitar, this concerto provided an incessant process of discovery, with its threaded melodic content and hints at major/minor conflict.
The PGS had presented the Concerto de Toronto in January 2016 featuring Rose and I. This, the fourth Brouwer concerto, dedicated to John Williams, will be staged again with Tuhin Rao playing the piano reduction. Tuhin has worked through a practically unplayable piano section with considerable patience, even through moments of sheer exasperation, to come up with a much more interesting treatment that is texturally reminiscent of the actual orchestral part. He was fascinated with the unique treatment of harmony in Brouwer’s music, which provided him with substantial motivation. The Toronto offers a more chequered textural experience to audiences with some very lively parts, punctuated with introspective guitar cadenze in the first and third movements, and two very quiet variations in the second.
The PGS intends to bring collaborative concerts to the stage, and will also work towards arranging this at other places in India in the future.
Please bookmark PGS website at puneguitarsociety.org. This carries information about events, and our blog also features impressions, thoughts and views on music. Individual experiences in preparing for this concert have been added recently, and might be interesting for those who would like to know how it was to prepare for this concert.
– Jayant S