Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

De Pablo/Donatoni/Marco/Gubaidulina

About Luis de Pablo

Obertura A La Francesca (1995) (De Pablo)
Rash II (1995) (Donatoni)
Paraíso Dinámico (1993) (Marco)
Rumia (2003) (De Pablo)
In Erwartung (1994) (Gubaidulina)
Corola (1998) (De Pablo)

Grupo Sax-Ensemble

Verso: VRS2041

Another welcome batch from his publisher of CDs of music by the Madrid-based composer Luis de Pablo (b. March 1930) has helped bring me up to date with my distant friend's undiminished international activity since his 70th & 75th birthday celebrations - but sadly there's been nothing I knew of in UK since I helped to sponsor his appearance at the 1998 Huddersfield Festival and have not seen him since then.

Now he's 80 so no doubt there will be even more celebration and digital recordings, including remastering of some of the earliest recordings.

Performances of major orchestral works and operas are hard to set up (we had a near miss with his La madre invita a comer scheduled for production at Sadler's Wells, but abandoned at the last because of financial difficulties) so chamber music perhaps offers the best opportunity for getting a composer more widely heard in UK?

Saxophone ensembles are becoming more main-stream and eclectic in their explorations, and I have overcome my prejudice; a disc by the Swedish group of young women Rolling Phones has insidiously become a favourite; I've listened through it again and again on my iPod.

Grupo Sax-Ensemble (the link is to see them on YouTube with soprano Pilar Jurado) has four saxophonists plus piano and percussion and de Pablo is showcased here with distingushed contemporaries. His own works chosen include the ingenious Obertura A La Francesca for flutist & saxs, with typical runs in de Pablo's signature scale patterns, and Corola for the Sax-Ensemble's combination, premiered by them in London, so I now gather.

The Donatoni work (with piano and two percussionists) is a distinguished example of his writing, with "rhythmic contrapuntal writing, displacements generating a lively, shifting sonorous fabric" (JLG del Busto). Marco confronts dynamic and mechanical phenomena in rapidly changing fields, the composer generating complexity from simplicity, which he hopes is exciting to play and to listen to. Gubaidulina's is more abstract with evocative timbres, but needing six percussionists it probably travels less easily.

The others here would make a splendid programme to take on tour as a tribute to de Pablo's importance; recognised in Europe and world-wide, but strangely UK has missed out since Luis de Pablo used to be featured in the long-lamented annual summer Almeida International Festival of Contemporary Music in the '80s.

Luis De Pablo - Portrait Imaginé - Com Un Epileg

José Ramón Encinar Orchestra/Ensemble: Madrid Community Chorus & Community Orchestra, Cámara XXI,

Stradivarius STR33725

These are two important works from 1974/84 and 1988.

Portrait Imaginé for large orchestra with 12 singers is a continuous 55 mins "fresco of a dreamscape" of boundless imagination, one to thrill audiences at major concerts.

The original line up, with many unusual instruments, was drawn from specialist students in universities across Canada, and a similar project to give it in London would be ideal for one of those Total Immersion days the BBC puts on, or for a contemporary composer residency in one of the music Colleges; they'd better hurry - no-one knows how their subjects are chosen...

Com Un Epileg is a setting of Catalan aphorisms, provided with English translations for a madrigal-type group a sei voci (originally with two countertenors) and chamber orchestra. Pending major performances this composer deserves, it too would go well with college forces.

These are both unique and treasurable works. The CD is fully documented & - for my biased self - this is another "must have" disc.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Image: LdP and PGW at Bilbao, 1999