Music

A pretty bird in the garden

This piece was part of the Young Composers Meeting 2013. During one week, young composers had the opportunity of working together with orkest de erepris and singers from the Royal Conservatory of Den Haag, under the mentoring of the following teachers: Louis Andriessen, Martijn Padding, Richard Ayres, Carola Bauckholt and Dmitri Kourliandski.

The poem of my piece was written by Friedrich Daumer (1800-1875); the English translation is found in the Liebeslieder Waltzer by Johannes Brahms:

A little pretty bird took flight
Into the garden fair, where fruit was plentiful.
Were I a pretty little bird,
I’d not delay, I’d do the same as he.
Treacherous lime trap lies in wait;
Poor little bird could not escape.
Were I a pretty little bird,
I’d think again, not do the same as he.
The bird it came into a maiden’s hand,
And there was safe, the lucky one.
Were I a pretty little bird,
I’d not delay, I’d do the same as he.
Location:
Theaterzaal Gigant, Apeldoorn, Holland.
22-02-2013
Performers:
orkest de erepris
Singers: Gosia Stencel and Ginette Puylaert.
Conductor: Rob Vermeulen

 

A Portuguese Lullaby: Dorme meu menino

The lyrics of Dorme meu menino come from a Portuguese traditional lullaby, and the music is original.

Location:
Composers’ Festival, Conservatory of Amsterdam, Holland. 9-06-2012
Performers:
Voice – Aleksandra Bajde
Harp – Anneleen Schuitmaker
Portuguese Guitar – Rafael Fraga

 

A Portuguese song: Travessia

The poem of Travessia was written in the 11th century by Ibn Darrâj al-Qastallî, an Arabic poet living in Al Andaluz (in a territory belonging to Portugal after the Andaluz period).

Location:
Composers’ Festival, Conservatory of Amsterdam, Holland. 9-06-2012
Performers:
Voice – Aleksandra Bajde
Harp – Anneleen Schuitmaker
Portuguese Guitar – Rafael Fraga

 

Sul (for ensemble)

The name of the piece – Sul (south) – alludes to a sound world coming from southern Europe. Besides a particular use of the plucked instruments, where the guitar and mandolin play an important role, I was inspired by the ornamentation, the lamento expression, and some modes used in this region. The last section of the piece is an arrangement made after a Sephardic melody (from the medieval song Lavava y suspirava) which is, for me, a sum of the musical richness and confluences found in the traditional music of the Iberian Peninsula.

This piece was developed under the project Transmission possible from the Nieuw Ensemble.

Location:
Haitinkzaal in the Conservatory of Amsterdam,10-06-2011.
Performers:
Nieuw Ensemble

 

Andaluz (for ensemble)

This piece was inspired by the descriptions of Andalusian music as it was practiced in the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages, found in the books “O meu curacao é árabe” and “Arabesco da Música Árabe e da Música Portuguesa” from Adalberto Alves. My guideline was to suggest some of the environments that are part of an Andalusian musical event (Nuba), but in an essentially free and intuitive way.

Location:
Casa da Música, Porto, Portugal. June 2008.
Performers:
Remix Ensemble

 

Arrangement: Lavava y suspirava (for ensemble)

I came across the song Lavava y suspirava by its interpretation from Montserrat Figueras and Hespèrion XXI. Coming from a Sephardic origin, it was sung in the Iberian Peninsula at the time of the queen Isabel I, in the 15th century. This song brings to me echoes of a time where Jewish and Arabic poetry and music were listened everywhere in the peninsula. The immaterial nature of sound makes difficult to rebuild such a beautiful and rich confluence; and from this longing to listen was born the will to do this transcription.

The distance between the time where this song was circling in the peninsula and the time of the transcription brings the necessity to raise the attention to hear, as if we were listening from behind a closed door. In some moments we can listen to the original melody more clearly, and in others a little opacity comes.

I respected the pitches of the song’s melody, and the rhythmic flow – however, as it is originally sung in a flexible and free way, and I transcribed only for instruments, there is some freedom in the rhythm. The short introduction was freely composed by myself.

Location:
Played in Den Bosh, Holland. & Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Holland. April 2008.
Performers:
Nieuw Ensemble. Instrumentation: Flute, Clarinet (in b flat), Mandolin, Guitar, Harp, Percussion, Viola and Violoncello.

 

A Civilização (for soprano and ensemble)

This piece had as its starting point the book “The city and the mountains” (A cidade e as serras) from the Portuguese writer Eça de Queirós.

I gave a special attention to the passages where the humor in its various forms (picturesque, humorous, ironic, etc.), assumes the leading role. Among these, I retained particularly the descriptions of the going to the opera: it is regarded as a social event, an excuse to show the best clothes, accessories and makeup (the famous face powder). The solo soprano takes the role of attraction – she must have an impressive pose of diva and thrill the audience with her dramatic skills.

Another situation widely described by Eça de Queirós concerns the ‘gadgets’ of the urban civilization of the 19th century – appliances sometimes of dubious utility that could become a nightmare if mishandled or damaged. If used extensively could also have the disadvantage of making everyday life very dull.

Performed at the International Composition Competition of Póvoa de Varzim where the piece was awarded with the first prize (chamber music category).

Location:
International Composition Competition of Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal. July 2007.
Performers:
Ensemble Camerata senza mesura
Singer: Raquel Camarinha

 

Adormecer (for orchestra)

This piece has two main moments. In the first one there is more flow of activity; each instrument has an independent voice that stands out or goes to the background complementing the other voices. The second moment is more static: the melodies of each instrument will be diluted to result in a harmonious whole, lightly punctuated by some melodic drawings.

The analogy expressed in the title alludes to the moment where, falling asleep, we are assailed by various thoughts, even if unintentional, and how these are becoming more vague, giving place to a smooth and quiet rest.

Location:
Teatro Helena Sá e Costa (ESMAE), Porto, Portugal. February 2007.
Performers:
Sinfonieta of ESMAE (students’ orchestra from Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo do Porto).

 

Claro-escuro (for electronics)

This piece has departed from an audio format considered “less sophisticated” – the general midi – with the goal of creating several variables to give it a more personal and characteristic sonority. The title comes from the subtleties and variations that exist within a black and white tool.

Location:
Played in several events, including “Festival Atlante Sonoro XXI”, Roma, Italy. April 2011.
Performers:
Electronics

 

In the Middle (for an ensemble from Atlas Academy)

Atlas Academy is a laboratory for the creation of innovative intercultural music, where composers work closely with musicians from all over the world.

I’ve tried to find a melodic and harmonic ground that would be inviting for the musicians to create short phrases and to give their own expression and rhythmic flow to the parts I’ve written. The very final of the sketch is a vocal improvisation by Elchin Nagijev.

Location:
Workshop Atlas Academy 2011,Conservatory of Amsterdam, Holland. August/September 2008
Performers:
Musicians: Kamancha: Elshan Mansurov (Azerbaijan); Duduk: Gevorg Dabaghian (Armenia); Tar: Elchin Nagijev (Azerbaijan); Qanun: Bassem Alkhouri (Syria); Harp: Ernestine Stoop (The Netherlands).