Brouwer and Birtwistle première at St John’s Smith Square, London

Isabelle Hernández, Julian Bream, Leo Brouwer and John Williams, London, 4 December 2014 ©Thérèse Wassily Saba

LEO BROUWER was in London to attend the première of his Sonata No. 5: Ars Combinatoria, performed by the young guitarist Andrey Lebedev at St John’s, Smith Square on 4 December 2014

This Julian Bream Trust concert featured a second première – Construction with Guitar Player: Beyond the White Hand by Harrison Birtwistle. Both of these works had been commissioned by The Julian Bream Trust and are dedicated to Julian Bream.

andrey Lebedev 4 Dec 2014LOW

The contemporary guitar repertoire has been greatly enriched by the output of the Cuban composer, conductor and guitarist Leo Brouwer, who during his long career as a composer has written works for the guitar which reflect his broad and deep experience of classical music. After the première of Sonata No. 5: Ars Combinatoria, it was even more exciting to hear that another solo guitar work, Danzas Rituales y Festivas Vol. 2, was on its way. Leo Brouwer spoke to me about this next piece, which will be premièred by Andrey Lebedev at Wigmore Hall on 18 May 2015.

Leo Brouwer:

‘At the age of eighteen I wrote the Danza Caracteristica (Typical Dance) about Cuban themes. I always felt the desire to transcend a pure reply of the popular dances, for being incomparable in its dancing function and for constituting a formal “stereotype” that did not concern to me.

There exist delicious “valsecitos” (little vals), tangos, batucadas or bossa novas that repeat themselves up to the satiety, except those like Rachmaninov, Ginastera, John Adams and a few more. Where do we see the transcendence of the dance? In Ravel’s marvellous ostentation of fantasy: La Valse. This is my idea about the Ritual and Festive Dances without stopping the approach to the “popular feeling” so present in the folklore heritage. This is the second series of them, finished a few months ago.’ (Leo Brouwer, London, 5 December 2014)

Danzas Rituales y Festivas Vol. 2 by Leo Brouwer is in two movementsGlosas Camperas and Danza de los Ancestros. Andrey Lebedev spoke to me about the première at Wigmore Hall, which he is very much looking forward to: ‘Danzas Rituales y Festivas was kindly given to me by Leo Brouwer following the première of his Sonata No. 5, which written for Julian Bream and commissioned by the Julian Bream Trust. These two dances show another side of Brouwer’s creative mind. They appear somehow simpler in conception but wonderfully effective for it. Rather than engaging with the formal elements of a Sonata, Brouwer offers a colourful window into the folkloric heritage of Cuba, with a slight European twist (such as “Chopiniana” interwoven in the first movement).’

The Wigmore Hall concert is part of their Monday Platform series and Andrey Lebedev will also perform Harrison Birtwistle’s Construction with Guitar Player: Beyond the White Hand. It is a shared concert with Keri Fuge (soprano), Matthew Fletcher (piano) and Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula (solo piano) performing works by Rachmaninov, Janacek and Beethoven on Monday 18 May 2015 at 7.30pm. Tickets.

© Thérèse Wassily Saba 2015

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