(Valls 1896 - Cambridge 1970)

Vuit cançons populars catalanes

(1929) -14′

I. Cançó del lladre
II. La cinta daurada
III. L’escolta
IV. La tornada del pelegrí
V. La cita
VI. El carboneret
VII. La comtessa de Floris
VIII. Cançó de batre

Anna Alàs i Jové, mezzo-soprano
Anna Crexells, piano


Six chansons populaires françaises

(1944) -15′

I. Voici le mois de Mai
II. Les cloches de Guérande
III. Un rossignol vint sur ma main
IV. La plus jeunette
V. La valse de Lauterbach
VI. Me suis mise en danse

María Hinojosa Montenegro, soprano
Francisco Poyato, piano

7 Haiku

(1922, rev.1958) -10 ′

I. Au milieu de la prairie verte
II. J’ai caressé ta flottante chevelure de cressons bleus
III. Sous les lucioles
IV. Douce voix
V. Pensée
VI. Sous la pluie d’été
VII. Mais en exil

María Hinojosa Montenegro, soprano
Francesc Prat, conductor
Seed Ensemble

SEED ENSEMBLE: Elisabet Franch, flute | Miquel Ramos, clarinet | Pilar Bosque, oboe | Pepa Fusté, bassoon | Laura Farré Rozada, piano


by Anna Costal i Fornells

In December 1929, Robert Gerhard conducted a concert of his works at the Palau de la Música Catalana: Concertino, 7 Haiku, Quintet, a selection of Catorze cançons populars catalanes (Fourteen popular Catalan songs), Sardana I and Sardana II. The Association Música da Camera, organiser of the event, presented him as one of the ‘best-prepared young Catalan musicians, with the most complete personality, and the most intelligently restless and refined temperament’. Having returned to Catalonia after studying with Arnold Schoenberg, Gerhard delighted the Barcelona audience with sounds impregnated with the musical avant-garde of Central Europe.

In those years, in addition to putting the atonal language into practice, the composer from Valls maintained his sensitivity for Catalan popular music that Felip Pedrell had transmitted to him. A good example is the popular songs for voice and piano of 1928, a delightful dialogue between tradition and experimentation that placed Gerhard in a dimension very different from that of other approaches to this repertoire. Conxita Badia performed The Countess of Floris, The thief's song and six more titles at the 1929 concert, and also the 7 Haiku. Haiku or haikai is a genre of traditional Japanese poetry that, through French literature, attracted Catalan intellectuals at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1920, Josep Maria Junoy published thirty of them in the volume Loves and landscapes, twenty-five of which in French and the rest in Catalan. Gerhard became interested in the very short formula of the haikai and set to music seven for voice and small instrumental ensemble. The aesthetics of that music generated a certain “annoyance” in certain sectors - Lluís Millet expressed it in the Catalan Music Magazine by January 1930. In contrast, composer and music critic Baltasar Samper, from Advertising, asked for respect and, if necessary, that the Palau concert could be repeated in its entirety because the "noise of the room" had prevented the music from being heard in good condition.

In 1944, while trying to recover emotionally from exile and the "two revolutions" - the Civil War and World War II - Gerhard composed Six French folk songs for voice and piano premiered, years later in London, by soprano Sophie Wyss and pianist Ernest Lush. The musical language of these songs contrasts with that of the Catalans of 1928. The piano accompaniment has an impressionistic character, a kind of recognition of the great names of the melody French of the previous generation and even a nod to Catalan songs like The nightingale a Here is the May ego.


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