A treasure of Spanish post-romantic and modern piano music related to fine arts

I belong to people who stop when passing by an advertisement window with an interesting announcement of a concert. Looking at the watch it would start in 30 minutes and contain pieces, I would only learn about on CDs.

Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando) in Madrid and the piano recital of Mario Prisuelos offered me such an unforgettable experience and chance of listening pieces by Joaquin Turina, Federico Moreno Torroba, Tomás Marco and many more.

madrid concert

The concert was a part of a biweekly series featuring unknown compositions by composers of our time and late romanticism and putting them into a context of fine arts. I can reproduce bits of the text now and my impression of the pieces, but the whole artistic and musical context is inexplicable in plain words. So, let me depict a bit the atmosphere:

Imagine you just came out from Prado and you remember on the one hand the beautiful Maja (one is naked, the other one dressed), and on the other hand his dark period when he was suffering a deadly illness. You stumble about this change of unforgettable beauty to obnoxious cannibalism. All the range of emotions go through your brain and then you realize, where to find all these emotions all together: flamenco…

Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982) was impressed by the darkness and witchcraft of the dark paintings of Goya and composed a piece called Cuadro goyesco (Goya painting) consisting of five parts: Preludio, Fandango, Zapateado Oriental, Jota – a typical sequence of Spanish suite. It is said, that the composer was not influenced by none of the paintings in particular, and only the pieces Fandango – which transmits the darkness through music ( in flamenco this genre is used to express death) – and Jota (originally a dance from Aragón, where Goya’s roots lie) point to the painter directly.

Tomás Marco (1942), who was present in the audience, was inspired by sculptures for his composition Movilidad de la escultura ( Movement of the sculpture). He dedicated this piece to Mario Prisuelos, the pianist of this afternoon concert, and says that he wanted to reach an approximation to sculptures that may represent frozen movement in the moment it becomes a statue. Now imagine how Victoria jumps over the staircase of LouvreBernini crowned with laurel of Daphnethe wind of Chirino swaying a Calder and few more attempts to combine modern arts with the antique by contemporary classical music.

Joaquin Turina (1882-1949) was represented in this concert with his works from his last period of life. Contemplación (contemplation) op.99 is a meditative piece, to be put in today’s jargon, in front of Annunciation by Fra Angelico, Dame of Elche and Lances by Velazquez. The first piece is influenced by the intimate light in the picture and ends with a very soft pianissimo. The Dame of Elche is a sculpture which the composer might have seen at an exhibition in Louvre in Paris and dedicated a majestic piece to this art work. The last piece of this oeuvre is a narrative of a battle with sounds imitating dutch trumpets, Spanish trumpets, and lots of percussive elements which indicate battle scenes to culminate in a majestic triumph.

I am almost running out of links I would like to suggest to you. But maybe few of these featuring Mario Prisuelos: Preludios by Federico Mompou, Rapsodia Sinfonica by Joaquin Turina, and my favorite, Enrique Granados: La maja y el ruiseñol ( the girl and the nightingale)