born in Tarragona, helped his parents in the fields until
he was twenty. His musical talents first won him a place
in Barcelona's conservatory then at the Ecole Normale in
Paris. After a career as concert pianist, which ended in
1960, he turned to composition, studying in Paris and attending
classes with Messiaen, concerts of Domaine Musicale and encountering
Berio, Xenakis and Stockhausen. His first works until the
mid-1970s were avant-garde - the stuff of London's Roundhouse.
three single movement concertos are a product of his later
more accessible style although they sometimes wave the shrouds
of his earlier years.
Concerto is wild, woolly, unruly, effervescent, feral,
jazzy, boisterous, percussion-riled and rapped ... even
humorous. Parallels are going to be approximate as usual
but the closest I can offer are late Bernstein and Panufnik
in his most explosive vein. Here it is played by the dedicatee.
The Piano Concerto emerges from inky realms, grumbling
deep in the bass and generating great churning whirlpools,
jazzily metropolitan, confident, tense, dissonant, plangent,
crystalline, ruthlessly violent and exciting. It is dedicated
to Ernest Lluch who was assassinated by ETA. The Music
for cello and orchestra is also played by its dedicatee.
It starts, as does the Clarinet Concerto, with the solo
instrument alone. Here the cello is sinister, woody, resonant,
motorically awesome, gritty, alive with virtuoso invention.
It inevitably echoes the otherness of the Kodaly solo cello
sonata. After some five minutes of soliloquy the orchestra
joins in a tempest of motivic shards and shadows with some
gamelan tattoos as at 10:04. This is in the further reaches
and is closer to Guinjoan's 1970s avant-garde grounding.
Nevertheless much of this is fascinating and as the work
progresses the voices of disintegration are subdued if
not completely stilled.
is now one of Catalan music's doyens. I hope there is some
way to get to hear his well reported Second Symphony and
his opera Gaudi.
this disc - it's not an easy listen for most of the time
but it is rewarding and will appeal to anyone already wedded
to the constituency of Bernstein, Bolcom and Schuman.