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New Year’s Eve, Spanish style

2012 December 27
by Becky Whyley

JosepThe Colorado Springs Philharmonic will raise the curtain on 2013 with a Spanish flavor, as Music Director Josep Caballé-Domenech brings music of his homeland to next week’s New Year’s Eve concert.

This is not your typical New Year’s Eve concert, and audiences may not recognize some of the works. ¡En Fuego! is a gala program of Spanish and Spanish-themed literature, including works featuring choreography and song.

Caballé-Domenech wanted to do the program as his gift to the Colorado Springs community. As he enters his third season as the Philharmonic’s music director, Josep is offering a unique opportunity for audiences to see him on the podium for a non- Masterworks series concert.

The repertoire includes composers both well-known and more obscure, with a nod to the great Frenchman Emanuel Chabrier, whose work España will open the concert. “This is a very good piece, it’s festive,” says Josep, “and it’s a perfect way to open the evening.”

The concept for this Spanish-music program evolved over several months during a collaboration with the Zurich Tonhalle orchestra. The program has been widely performed in Europe, and “it always works,” says Caballé-Domenech.

Following the Chabrier, the mood will be toned down a bit with the 1945 Cinco canciones negras for soprano, of Xavier Montsalvatge. “This is a more serious view of Spanish music,” says the maestro, adding that the pieces are beautiful, lively and contemporary. Montsalvatge died in 2002, making him the most contemporary of all the composers on the program.

Manuel De Falla’s one-act opera, La vida breve, (1905) was the composer’s first important work. The New Year’s Eve program will feature the interlude and dance sequence.

It will be followed by selections from De Falla’s 1917 ballet in two scenes, The Three Cornered Hat, originally entitled The Magistrate and the Miller’s Wife. New Year’s Eve will feature the Dance of the Miller’s Wife, Dance of the Neighbors, Dance of the Miller, and the Jota, or Danza Finale.

While many concert-goers will recognize elements of Spanish culture in the dance pieces, the choreography doesn’t just involve familiar flamenco style footwork; the choreography will have roots in Spanish national dance, with a taste of classical Spanish ballet.

The second half of the program brings more Spanish songs and dances, by composers who are less well-known outside of their own cultures, including Ruperto Chapí, Federico Chueca, Pablo Sorozábal, Jeronimo Giménez, and others.

“These are all smaller pieces,” as Josep describes the program, “to pull together the idea of last century Spanish music.”

Opening the second half is the Prelude to the Ruperto Chapí’s La revoltosa, a zarzuela, or Spanish opera, in one act. This piece has been arranged for various ensembles from guitar to brass, but in full orchestra it blooms with Spanish effervescence.

Another Chapí work will feature the Carceleros for soprano, from his zarzuela, The Daughters of Zebedeo.

The brilliant and popular Preludio from Federico Chueca’s El Bateo comes next. Chueca was one of Spain’s most beloved composers and this zarzuela is widely regarded as his most successful.

The Basque-Spanish Pablo Sorozábal was arguably the master of the romantic zarzuela, and a selection from his La del manojo de rosas (An Armful of Roses) is included on the program.

Jeronimo Giménez was a prolific composer who worked with Chapí and many Spanish librettists and whose work was considered elegant because of its rhythmic and easy melodies. The New Year’s Eve audience will hear the interlude from La Bodas de Luis Alonso (The Wedding of Luis Alonso), a Spanish comic-genre zarzuela.

Two more songs for soprano will follow, including works from zarzuela of Francisco Barbieri, known as a father figure in Spanish music, and Pablo Luna’s Canción Española from El niño Judio.

The concert is rounded out by the Fandango from Amadeo Vives’ Doña Francisquita along with two more shorter works from Chueca and Giménez.

Karin Mushegain, mezzo-soprano, will be featured guest. Ms. Mushegain has a performed a wide variety of roles with opera companies throughout the US, including New York, Los Angeles, Annapolis, and Austin, and with the Virginia and Ash Lawn opera companies.

Performing the dance sequences will be Julia Chacon, a flamenco dancer from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has taught extensively throughout the United States and as a model, has inspired many artists and sculptors to immortalize flamenco into works of art.

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