1. Introduction and Polonaise Brillante op. 3 Frederic Chopin
2. Graciela y Buenos Aires (1985) José Bragato
3. Danzón #5 (Portales de Madrugada) (1999) Arturo Márquez
4. Reminiscencias (1994) Eduardo Gamboa
5. Azules (1996) Eduardo Gamboa
6. Tango (1999) Eugenio Toussaint
7. Adagio y Allegro op. 70 Robert Schumann
8. Modinha (1939) Francisco Mignone
9. No corran que es peor (1999) Javier Montiel
Dos Piezas (1999) Joaquín Gutierrez Heras
11. Con moto
12. Kol Nidrei op. 47 Max Bruch
Introduction and Polonaise Brillante op. 3
The Polonaise is a popular Polish dance that became adapted to concert music via the baroque suite. However it wasn’t until Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) started writing his Polonaises that he really achieved its fullest expression
Chopin wrote 16 polonaises in all for solo piano. Between 1829 and 1830, he would also write some pieces for the cello, the only instrument besides the piano that seems to have interested him. The Introduction and Polonaise, op.3 (also known as the Polonaise Brillant) is a good example of the evident attachment that Chopin had toward the cello. It begins with a pair of heroic gestures from the piano, followed by the cello’s entrance. The cello’s part, deceptively simple, is well conceived and melodic, although (as with all of this composer’s music) the piano is given the lion’s share of duties. A development, with all the expected drama of Chopin’s polonaises ensues, and the piece concludes with a coda replete with romantic rhetoric.
Graciela y Buenos Aires
Born in Italy, Argentine cellist, arranger and composer José Bragato (b. 1915) achieved great distinction as a performer. At various times during his professional career he played with groups such as the Buenos Aires Octet, Los Astros del Tango, the Buenos Aires Philharmonic and with popular groups such as Anibal Troilo’s or Astor Piazzolla. Bragato’s music shows a clear Piazzollan influence, as well as great capacity for reconciling the differences between traditional tango and the expressive forms of the newer tango as exemplified by Piazzolla. Graciela y Buenos Aires, written in 1971 for cello solo with string orchestra, is an interesting example of an elegant, refined tango. In its first section, the piece is impregnated with a nostalgic feeling, giving way to a more extroverted central section-more danceable, one could say. Finally, the contemplative, somewhat sad character is taken up again in the piece’s final measures.
In recent years, the career of Arturo Marquez (b. 1950) has become consolidated as one of the leading composers of the Latin American music scenario. His ability to fuse and stylize influences from popular sources, and especially his series of “danzones” for diverse instrumental combinations, have gained him great popularity. As far as his Danzón #5 is concerned, Marquez says: “The Danzón #5 is also subtitled Portales de Madrugada (Early Morning Porticos). It was written for saxophone quartet in 1997; the version for cello and piano was arranged in 1999 for my friend Alvaro Bitrán. It’s a small danzón , in an almost traditional style, evoking the porticos that surround so many of the town squares in Veracruz, so dear to me. But this porticos, also remind me of my hometown (Alamos, Sonora), which is nicknamed the City of Porticos. So that’s where the name came from, although the “Early Morning” part of the title simply refers to the hour at which I finished the piece”
Best known as a composer of scenic music, (for film, theater and television) Eduardo Gamboa (b. 1960) has also built up a considerable body of music designed for concert performance. Reminiscencias is clearly a piece of clearly dance origins. Its brief development is characterized by a direct allusion to the minuet-trio-minuet form. Although its original instrumentation was for clarinet and string quartet, Gamboa has arranged it for other combinations, all with great success. Both it and Azules , in their cello/piano versions, are dedicated to Alvaro Bitrán, who gave them their premiere.
Azules (Shades of Blue) was originally written for viola and piano by Eduardo Gamboa in 1996. In this “song without words”, the composer creates an ambience of simplicity and directness, with discreet references to Impressionism.
Composer/pianist Eugenio Toussaint (1954) roots are embedded within jazz, but he has successfully been able to cross over into concert repertoire, thanks in great part to his ability to synthesize styles. Here is what he has to say about his Tango for cello and piano :
"This piece was originally the second movement of a piece entitled OKTKT, for Wind Octet. The principal melodic motives were adapted for this new version; I also added new variations specifically for cello and piano. Even though it's called Tango, by no means was I trying to strictly imitate the tango's form. Rather, there
are in it certain rhythmic and melodic traits that bring to mind the tango 's spirit, if not its original structure. "
With all of its jazz-like qualities (especially in the piano's introduction) we can see that Toussaint has carefully studied the fundamental elements of existing tangos . It is also dedicated to Mr. Bitran.
Adagio and Allegro
It was in the city of Dresden that Robert Schumann (1810-1856) spent one of his most productive epochs. Schumann made Dresden his home as of 1849, he wrote several pieces in differing genres. For example, in February of that year, he completed his Konzertstuck for Four Horns and Orchestra (op. 86) and almost at the same time, the Adagio and Allegro for horn and piano. Originally entitled Romanza and Allegro, Schumann offers in the title that the piece can also be played either on the violin or on the cello. The piece's foundations rest on its sense of balance; structural balance in its different sections, and the beautiful balance between its romantic language and its classic form .
Of Portuguese origin, the modinha was originally a sentimental type of song.
Over the passage of time (and especially upon its arrival in Brazil) it became fluffed up, so to speak, acquiring elements that would make it seem more like an Italian-opera-influenced aria.
During the 19th Century, it became transformed once again, by accepting popular influences. Finally, it settled into its eventual character as a folkloric song with strong lyrical influences. Numerous Brazilian composers, headed up by Heitor Villa-Lobos, have incorporated the modinha into their works. Francisco Mignone (1897-1986) created this nostalgic modinha. The subtlety of the piano accompaniment is a faithful reflection of the harpsichord accompaniments, which were used for
No corran que es peor
Violist arranger, and composer, Javier Montiel (1954) presents us with an irreverent and farcical piece entitled “No corran que es peor “( Don't Rush, It Only Makes Things Worse) .
This piece is easily the most avant-garde among the pieces included in this collection. Amidst rather ambiguous, shadowy passages, one can sense a presence; here tango-like, there more akin to jazz. Several different sound possibilities are also explored. As to how Montiel came to write the bustling final section of “Don't Rush…” it's best that he tell us in his own words:
"This is music with a happy character and it's written in a simple fashion: A-B-A. The cello starts out with a section of natural harmonics, rising and falling on each of the instrument's four strings. Soon the piano catches up with the cello, which has meanwhile begun to play a more rhythmic pattern. A bitonal section
ensues, reminiscent of a malambo. In the piece's central section, the clear influences of jazz can be felt via a sort of mini-theme and variations, in which the harmonic pattern is repeated over and over again. The piano and the cello pursue each other, alternately with the melody, the bass line, or the fugal pas- sages, until they both reach a climax, which leads us back to the recapitulation.
Ignoring the warning issued in the piece's title, both instrumentalists
launch into a precipitous accelerando, culminating in glissandi. “Don't Rush…” is dedicated to the great cellist, my now and ever friend and
colleague, Alvaro Bitrán. "
Dos Piezas (1999)
Joaquin Gutierrez Heras (b. 192 7) has written the following about his Two Pieces for Cello and Piano :
"These two pieces were written near the end of 1999. The first is derived from incidental music that I had written for the play Intimidad (Intimacy) by Hugo Hiriart. It consists of a series of variations on a theme, based on notes of equal duration; in a certain sense it is evocative of Gregorian chant. The first five
the beginning of his L’Enfant et les sortileges (J,ai pas envie de faire ma page);
I wanted to see this piece as a sort of homage to Ravel.
The second piece is simply a brilliant, fast complement to the rather static first piece."
The first movement is entitled Continuo and the second, Con motto.
They are both dedicated to cellist Alvaro Bitrán and pianist Arturo Nieto -Dorantes.
The most solemn and important date in the Jewish calendar is, without a doubt, Yom
Kippur. On this Day of Atonement, fasting is observed and meditation is 'de riguer’. The ceremonies surrounding Yom Kippur involve a hymn, Kol Nidrei, which among other things symbolizes a reaffirmation of faith. The traditional Kol Nidrei melody was made famous above all, by an arrangement made of it in 1881 by German composer Max Bruch (1838- 1920) while he was the conductor at the
Bruch's Kol Nidrei, op. 47, was originally written for cello and orchestra, and is arguably his best-known composition. The cello's eloquent voice substitutes
perfectly for the temple cantor, giving the piece a character that is by turns contemplative and impassioned.
Juan Arturo Brennan
Álvaro Bitrán was born in Chile of a family of distinguished musicians. He
started playing the cello at the age of seven and concluded his formal
studies at Indiana University under the guidance of world renowned
cellist Janos Starker.
In 1982 he founded the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, a string quartet
that now enjoys world-wide recognition. In addition to frequent tours
of both North and South America, the quartet also tours Europe, Israel
and New Zealand.
Recent performances have included New York’s Carnegie Hall,
Washington’s Kennedy Center and Milan’s Teatro Alla Scala.
His recordings (more than 50 in all) have appeared in various labels
such as Dorian, New Albion and Urtext and have received several pri-
zes, including two Grammy Nominations in 2001: Best Chamber Music
Performance and Best Classical CD at the Latin Grammys.
Álvaro Bitrán is regularly invited to play as soloist with some of the major
orchestras in our continent: Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezue-
la symphony orchestras, Dallas Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic,
Seattle and San Antonio Symphony in the U.S. and Ottawa’s National
Arts Center Orchestra in Canada, among others.
Álvaro Bitrán is firmly committed to the creation of new music for his
instrument and has premiered and recorded many new works dedi-
cated to him.
He has recently released two cello and piano CD’s featuring new mu-
sic by Latin American composers, as well as traditional repertoire.
He has devoted much of his energy to teaching and is responsible for
the development of an entire generation of cellists in Mexico. Currently
he is a faculty member at the National Arts Center in Mexico City and at at the UANL in Monterrey .
He offers seminars and master classes in many universities in the US and
México and plays in a cello built by Martin Stoss, in 1817, in
Considered "the best Mexican young pianist" of his generation, the pianist Arturo Nieto-Dorantes studied at the Mexico's National Conservatory of Music, the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris and at the Indiana University School of Music, under the famous Hungarian pianist György Sebök.He has been winner of many national and international competitions and holds a piano and chamber music professorship at the Université Laval Music Faculty where he is the chairman of the piano department