MIQUEL DE JORGE ARTELLS
(Lleida, Spain 1994)

PassBand

(2021) - 5 '    

Commissioned work to the ESMUC composing class. World premiere

 

HECTOR BERLIOZ
(La Côte-Saint-André, France, 1803 - Paris, 1869)

Fantastic Symphony, op. 14

(1830) - 55 '

Instrumentation by Christiaan Janssen

I. Rêveries, passions (Dreams, passions)
II. Un bal (A ball)
III. Scène aux champs (Scene in the fields)
IV. Marche au supplice (March to the scaffold)
V. Songe d’une nuit du sabbat (Dream of a Sabbath Night)

BARCELONA SYMPHONY BAND
JOSEP CABALLÉ, CONDUCTOR

 

CLARINETS Àngel Errea, concertino / José Miguel Micó, soloist / Natalia Zanón, soloist  / Joana Altadill / Eduard Betes / Valeria Conti / Joan Estellés / Victòria Gonzálvez / Montserrat Margalef / Manuel Martínez / Javier Olmeda / José Joaquín Sánchez / Antonio Santos / Joan Tormo / Javier Vilaplana, requint / José Vicente Montesinos, bass clarinet  / Martí Guasteví, double bass clarinet  SAXOPHONES Maurici Esteller, alto / Dani Molina, alto soloist / Marta Romero, alto / Armand Franco, tenor / José Jaime Rivera, tenor / Pablo González *, baritone  FLUTES Manuel Reyes, soloist / Paula Martínez / Josep Maria Llorens, flute / Estela Serrano**  OBOES Pilar Bosque, soloist / David Perpiñán / Carla Suárez, English horn  BASSOONS  Daniel Ortuño, soloist / Xavier Cervera / Daniel Gálvez ** / Arnau Juanco **  HORNS Oleguer Bertran, soloist / Manuel Montesinos / Josep Miquel Rozalén / Miguel Zapata / Claudia Cobos * / Arantza Portolés **  TRUMPETS AND FISCORNS Jesús Munuera, soloist / Patricio Soler, soloist / Maurici Albàs / Santiago Gozálbez / Jesús Pascual / José Joaquín Salvador   TROMBONES Emilio Almenar / Francesc Ivars / Héctor Penades / Francisco Palacios, bass  EUPHONIUM Rubén Zuriaga, soloist / David Pantín TUBAS Antonio Chelvi, soloist / Francisco Javier Molina / Marc Pere Pascual **  DOUBLE BASSES Enric Boixadós / Antoni Cubedo  TIMPANI Ferran Carceller, soloist  PERCUSSION Mateu Caballé, soloist / Ferran Armengol / Alejandro Llorens / Carles Salvador *  HARP Laura Boschetti * / César Aparicio **

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR Joan Xicola
EXECUTIVE COORDINATOR Susanna Gamisel 
BAND SUPERVISOR Josep Miquel Rozalén
ARCHIVE Àlex Fernández
AUXILIARY SERVICES Airun Cultural Services

 * Collaborator
** Students of the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC)

NOTES

by Xavier Chavarria

Today’s concert opens with a premiere by composer Miquel de Jorge Artells (Lleida, 1994), a short piece that was commissioned by the Composition Department at the Catalonia College of Music (ESMUC). Its name is PassBand and it is based on performance and improv with electronic and synthesiser music. The idea was to imitate certain features of electronically processed sound, but the work is performed entirely by the instruments in a symphonic band. De Jorge investigated electronic sounds and textures such as reverberation, delay and oscillation which – combined with arpeggiations and ostinatos – come together to create a fascinating musical discourse. The work has two parts: the first has an astoundingly strong rhythmic component, with the machinery progressively firing up and growing louder and faster. In the second part, the constant throbbing beat continues, but there is more play with harmonic textures, leading us to a polytonal atmosphere that closes the piece with a noisy and spectacular ending, during which all the features of the work come together. The music of the future... is with us today! And we can bear witnesses to it.

To challenge established conventions, to defy tradition and to take a step forward into a new creative and artistic world were also Hector Berlioz’s aims when he composed the work that we will hear next, the Symphonie Fantastique, a colossal undertaking that was not only the founding manifesto of programme music and the genesis of modern orchestral instrumentation, but also the first musical self-portrait created by an artist through music, of his personality as an artist and as a human being, of his relationship woes and the suffering and sacrifices involved in artistic creation. It is a full-fledged confession that no one had ever dared to make before, which scandalised a large part of Parisian society of the time.

The Symphonie Fantastique is the first symphony in history that – beyond a simple evocation or general description – follows a detailed dramatic programme. The work broke free from all tradition, and is flush with an air of freedom, revolution and originality that are symbols of the romantic spirit. Indeed, it was rigidly contemporary with other visionary works, standards of Romanticism in France: the same year in which it was released, in 1830, Victor Hugo presented Hernani, Stendhal published The Red and the Black, and Delacroix painted the iconic Liberty Leading the People. The Fantastic Symphony is an immense symphonic tableau structured in five movements, with a plot reference created by Berlioz himself that refers to his own experience of self-destructive passion and unrequited love.

It is, therefore, a musical piece that shows the creative effervescence and deep-rooted inspiration of a very young author, who reveals his unbridled passion for an Irish actress, Harriet Smithson, with whom he had fallen in love three years earlier when he saw her play Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Odéon Theatre in Paris. This is the starting point for this work that describes young Berlioz’ obsession in great detail for the fascinating and alluring actress, but also haughty and disdainful, who completely ignored him.

Berlioz considered this work an instrumental drama and not a symphony, he titled it Episode of the life of an artist and asked for a text to be distributed to the public on the day of the premiere, explaining in detail the adventures of his hero, "a young musician of sickly sensibility and fiery imagination" who clearly identifies with the author himself. A work full of images ranging from the lyrical evocation of nature to the terrifying vision of the guillotine, to that of a supernatural dance, a storm or the hallucinations of an opium smoker: everything has its sound transcription through innovative effects such as the use of bells, the thunder of the timpani, the significant use of the harp (in Beethoven it does not even exist!) or the location of instruments behind the scenes, hidden from the public. Never before had these sound resources been used so boldly.

The premiere took place at the Paris Conservatoire on 5 December 1830 with François Habeneck conducting. It was a tremendous success, and a very young Franz Liszt was present in the hall, who was impressed by the ambitious and revolutionary work.

With Symphonie Fantastique, Berlioz opened a new path and consolidated a revolutionary and innovative orchestral treatment in terms of form, orchestral colour, sound textures and rhythmic inflections that other 19th century symphonists, including Liszt, Wagner and Mahler, took to the extreme.

And, by the way, the love story that incited the Symphonie Fantastique had a bitter and disappointing ending. The musician and actress were married in 1833 (with Heinrich Heine and Franz Liszt as witnesses to the union!), but their relationship was a complete failure replete with pain and jealousy, and after five years they separated permanently. The symphony, however, has entered the annals of history.

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