Puerto Viejo CD by Randall Avers
Spanish composers of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries found themselves torn between two almost irreconcilable poles of musical influence, those of Spanish nationalism and French modernism. The musical and artistic magnetism of Paris was inescapable for European composers in the nineteenth-century. Indeed by the time Isaac Albeniz arrived there to pursue childhood piano studies in 1867, Paris had already been the musical capital of Europe for some forty years. In light of this fact it is not surprising that all but one of the Spanish composers represented on the present album was affiliated with the French capital at one time or another. The Parisian experience afforded promising young Spanish composers the opportunity to interact with their peers from elsewhere in Europe and this interaction served to elevate the status of Spanish music on the international stage. While the modernized Spanish music that grew out of the Parisian experience was well received abroad, however, it was often received in Spain with suspicion, if not outright hostility.
In late-nineteenth-century Spain, a period of intense nationalism was underway. In music, the nationalist sentiment found its most potent expression in the mentoring of composer and musicologist Philippe Pedrell (1841-1922). Under Pedrell's influence, young Spanish composers such as Albeniz and de Falla were encouraged to look to the Spanish traditions for both their inspiration and their compositional materials. Thus in the compositional idioms of late nineteenth century Spanish composers, there existed a tension between their sense of fidelity to their Spanish heritage and their urge to incorporate the most compelling aspects of contemporary Parisian music into their compositions. This duality of late-nineteenth-century Spanish music found expression differently in each composer's work. The musical styles of some of these composers alternated in phases between the nationalist and modernist poles, while others attempted to reconcile the two influences by fusion. The unique character of each piece on the present album can therefore be understood as one manifestation of this ongoing interplay of French and Spanish musical influences in the musical language of a particular Spanish composer at a particular moment in his career.
This project is partially supported by a grant from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by the Vira I. Heinz Endowment; the William Penn Foundation; the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency and The Pew Charitable Trusts; and administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.