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Johannes Tonio Kreusch Art of the Guitar OC 107 4 CD
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Format4 Audio CD
Ordering NumberOC 107
Barcode4260034861077
labelOehmsClassics
Release date04.07.2008
salesrank11168

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      The 4-CD Box Set “Art of the Guitar” contains a major part of Johannes Tonio Kreusch’s musical universe as performed during his nearly twenty year long concert career. The set is simultaneously an inventory of modern guitar performance that ranges from modern classic composers of the 19th and 20th centuries to guitar composition in today’s Cuba and improvised, jazzrelated music. The critical interpretations of the Villa- Lobos Etudes – based on the composer’s manuscript – have become highly significant in the guitar discography:

      In addition to the longer middle section of Villa-Lobos’ Tenth Etude (recorded here for the first time), the listener constantly finds little details that may at first surprise, but which reveal their musical sense when heard repeatedly… An impressive CD by a first-rate musician!
      Akustik Gitarre

      CD 1

      Inspiración

      Inspiración is a very personal album. This CD brings together music that has long been my companion, which has inspired me and filled me with enthusiasm for the guitar. The Spanish word, Inspiración, has many meanings: breathing in, firing or filling with enthusiasm, pouring in, enthusiasm, inspiration, impulse…

      The works to be heard here, by Barrios- Mangoré, Tárrega, Albéniz, Rodrigo and Brouwer, have already filled many lovers of the guitar with enthusiasm, and inspired them to take a new look at its possibilities. Each of these composers has, directly or indirectly, played an important part in the guitar’s development, demonstrating new performance possibilities, finding new ways of expression and pouring in a new spirit to the guitar. All have been profoundly inspired by the six vibrating strings of the Spanish guitar, the people’s instrument of its native land. The many-coloured and sound-filled world of Spain and Latin America provides the basis for the compositions to be heard here, furnishes the inspiration and impulse for their creators.

      Let this album be dedicated to one of the great voices of this Spanish-speaking world: the poet, singer and guitarist Atahualpa Yupanqui, who inspired me for the guitar. Through his music we are breathing in the spirit of the Latin- American world, are taken on a journey across the vastness of the pampas. As a way of breathing in, most of my concerts begin with an improvisation. This allows me not only to acquaint myself with the acoustic possibilities of the concert hall in every detail, but also to build up a very personal relationship with the audience. This tone breathing-in of the acoustic and the direct search for sound can be a linking process for player and listener – prelude and inspiration as a preparation for the concert which follows. The improvisations “Inspiración” – Preludio and Conclusio – make up the framework within which the pictures imagined by the composers gathered together here can come to life.

      Music from Paraguay
      At the end of the nineteenth century, the guitar’s glory days were long since past. Meteoric technical development and the ever-increasing industrialisation of the world had their effect on musical life, too. The softly plucked tones of the lute or guitar were soon driven out by the ever more perfectly developed, powerful and virtuoso tones of the piano. Ears were attuned to a new world. The guitar was now heard mainly in small circles, at musical evenings in the home, or as a folk instrument. Although the great composers of the time enthused over the guitar’s expressive qualities, or imitated the guitar’s sound in orchestral or piano works, hardly any great composer wrote for the instrument. Hector Berlioz may well have had a decisive influence on this situation, when he wrote in his Grand Traité d’Instrumentation (1843) that it was impossible for a composer to write well for the guitar unless he was himself able to play the instrument. Berlioz’s words of warning remained a deterrent until the middle of the twentieth century; only then was the guitar reintroduced to composers and the public, to play its part in the development of contemporary music. In the preceding period the guitarist had no choice but to write for the instrument himself. Thus there came into being, quite separately from the general development of contemporary music, a school of guitar music captivated in the romantic style. These guitar pieces were known in association with their composer/performers, but were often forgotten after the artist’s death.

      Agustín Barrios-Mangoré (1885–1944) was one such composer. He died a year before Anton Webern, but seems to come from a quite different time. His neo-romantic music has nothing in common, for example, with the aesthetics of the Second Viennese School of Schönberg, Berg and Webern, who in the same period took Wagner’s extended chromaticism via the twelvetone technique to the very limits of tonality.

      Agustín Pío Barrios Ferreyra, from Paraguay, was one of the great guitar virtuosi of the first half of the twentieth century. Profoundly inspired by the culture of his native land, he took the name of a famous Paraguayan Guaraní chieftain, and henceforward styled himself “Chief Nitsuga (Nitsuga being Agustín spelt backwards) Mangoré, the Paganini of the guitar from the jungle of Paraguay”.

      In his music, South American folklore mingles with European romanticism. Thus in his compositions we find Paraguayan folk songs as well as waltzes, minuets and gavottes which hint at French styles. Like many other musicians before and after him, Barrios was much influenced by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He reputedly heard Bach’s music for the first time in the cathedral of “San José” in Montevideo, which prompted him to write La Catedral in the year 1921. (The introductory Preludio was added 17 years later to the other two movements. The manuscript of the Preludio bears the note “En La Habana (Cuba) 28.1.38”. At this time Barrios was temporarily living in a house opposite the cathedral of San Cristobal in Havana.) Barrios was the first guitarist – even before Segovia – to programme a complete Bach Suite, and to record Bach works for the gramophone. His earliest recordings date from before the First World War. Barrios also reformed contemporary guitar technique, based on the teaching of Tárrega and Sor. In contrast to the prevailing technique, Barrios propounded a looser, sideways stroke of the right, plucking hand, which, together with short fingernails, allowed a softer and more coloured tone production. Barrios also first hit on the principle behind today’s use of nylon for the higher strings of the classical guitar, covering his steel strings with small pieces of rubber in an effort to produce a softer tone, better suited to his own music. Like many of his notable colleagues, Agustín Barrios Mangoré nonetheless was standing in the shadow of the great aura of that famous Spanish guitarist, Andrés Segovia. When Barrios died in San Salvador in 1948, his music was soon forgotten. If the Spanish guitar maker Santos Hernandez is to be believed, Barrios’s playing style, however, lived on. Segovia travelled to South America for the first time in 1920, where he also took lessons with Barrios. When he came back to Spain, Segovia had, according to Hernandez, acquired a completely new sound on his instrument, softer and more beautiful…

      Music from Spain
      Spanish folk music is among the richest and most colourful in the world. Over many hundreds of years Spain was repeatedly fertilized and enriched by the most diverse cultures. Furthermore, the Iberian peninsula is divided up by high mountain ranges, so that individual regional styles have scarcely had a chance to mix. In addition, for a long period Spanish music took no part in the development of European art music, so that traditional music in Spain remained particularly cherished and preserved. What is usually seen from abroad as typically Spanish is the music of Andalusia. Andalusian folk music, for example, shows a particularly potent mix of the most disparate cultures.

      Here are oriental influences, and echoes of the music of Asia Minor. In Andalusia (“al andalus” – the land of the Vandals, named by the Moors, who took over in AD 711, from the Germanic tribe of the Vandals who had temporarily settled there) the Arabic domination lasted longer than in any other part of Spain. By way of influences as diverse as Arabic musical culture, Byzantine song, adopted by the Spanish church, the music of the gypsies, who came to Spain in increasing numbers from the fifteenth century, and Jewish synagogue music, cante jondo (“deep song”) came into being. Older than cante flamenco, its oriental-sounding, long-breathed, plaintive melodies recall the prayer of an Arabic muezzin.

      The guitarist and composer Francisco Tárrega y Eixa (1852–1909) calls up these memories with one of his most well-loved piece, Capricho Árabe. Like Barrios, Tárrega was totally captivated by the atmosphere of romanticism, and found inspiration, above all, in the popular culture of his Spanish homeland. As a somewhat withdrawn character, he looked to composition and the development of guitar technique for the realisation of his artistic aims, rather than seeking success on the concert platform. His work as a teacher, which produced significant guitarists like Miguel Llobet or Emilio Pujol, decisively helped the guitar’s progress towards re-acceptance as a serious classical instrument. (One should remember that until 1935 the guitar was not taught as a classical solo instrument in any of Spain’s superior academies of music!)

      Tárrega’s studies, transcriptions and concert pieces were developments for the guitar just as important as his efforts towards the refinement of guitar technique. The Spanish guitar maker Antonio de Torres Jurado (1817–1892) provided him also with an instrument that revolutionized the existing guitar sound from the ground up, and led the way to the development of the modern guitar. Among other improvements, an increase in the body size and alteration of the string lengths produced a louder and more colourful guitar sound. Through these decisive developments, Tárrega would have been “physically” ready for the Modernist world of this time; his music, however, remained tethered in conservatively romantic pastures. The pretty gavotte, María, may for some listeners seem something of an anachronism in a world that was on the point of abandoning the tonal centre altogether.

      In the same year that Tárrega died, there occurred the death of his friend, the pianist and composer Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz (1860–1909). Together with Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla and Roberto Gerhard, Albéniz belonged to the new school of Spanish composers which formed around Felipe Pedrell (1841–1922). Before Pedrell there had for almost two hundred years been no notable Spanish art music, except for the Zarzuelas, almost unknown outside Spain. Spanish composers stood too much in the shadow of Italian opera or the German romantic movement. In contrast, Spanishness was a quality much beloved outside its homeland – one has only to think of Bizet’s Carmen, Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody or the Spanish Capriccio, which caused Russian composer Rimskij- Korsakov to be hailed as the “best Spanish musician of the nineteenth century”. Pedrell was concerned to free Spain from these preconceptions, and like Bartók in Eastern Europe, developed the traditions of his native country, collecting old folk tunes which he made accessible to all in his Spanish Folk-Song Book. He also encouraged his pupils to consider their roots, and to write new Spanish music. The works of Isaac Albéniz, who as a Liszt pupil very quickly became recognized as a piano virtuoso (launching out independently at the age of nine, and travelling the world alone as a concert pianist), form a basic element of the guitar’s repertoire – despite the fact that Albéniz wrote not a single note for the guitar. His music so skilfully catches the sound of the guitar, the landscapes of Spain, that the guitar transcriptions sound for the most part like original works. It was Tárrega who first discovered Albéniz’s piano pieces for the guitar. The piece heard here, Asturias (describing a historic region of north-west Spain, to the north of the Cantabrian mountain range) comes from his Suite Espagnole for piano. This piece, curiously, owes much of its popularity to the guitar.

      Twentieth-century Spanish classical music had its beginnings in Paris. Here composers like Albéniz or Manuel de Falla (1876–1946) found readier listeners than at home. With the support of composer colleagues like Debussy, to whom, according to de Falla, Spanish music owes a great debt, they found here, far from home, their true voice. Significantly, on the death of Debussy, de Falla wrote his only guitar piece as homage to his friend and mentor. Since the death of Tárrega, this Homenaje – Le Tombeau de Debussy, is the first notable work for guitar by a Spanish composer. An equally gripping homage came from the pen of the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo (1901–1999) as a tribute to Manuel de Falla. Perhaps de Falla’s piece had given Rodrigo the courage, as a nonguitarist, to defy Berlioz’s strictures, and write for Spain’s national instrument. Joaquín Rodrigo, born on the feast day of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, lost his sight at the age of three, following an attack of diphtheria. Following the example of his famous countrymen, the young Rodrigo went to Paris to study with Paul Dukas, who had also taught Albéniz. Here he made the acquaintance of composers like Ravel, Stravinsky, Poulenc, d’Indy, Honegger and de Falla, and met the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi, who later became his wife. Rodrigo felt himself linked to the Pedrell-Albéniz-de Falla school, and wrote new Spanish music in the same line. His many works for guitar – above all his famous Concierto de Aranjuez – helped the guitar to new prominence. One of the most intimate guitar works from his pen is the Invocación y Danza, a homage to his mentor Manuel de Falla. The invocation, and the ritual dance which follows, with fleeting references to de Falla’s central works Noches en los Jardines de España and El Amor Brujo, is successful. Just as in de Falla’s Homenaje, the listener recalls Debussy’s spirit from the void through a quotation from his Soirée dans Granade from the piano cycle Estampes, in Rodrigo’s Homenaje de Falla indeed has the last word. With this work, Rodrigo pays tribute to the composer who finally and decisively opened the door for Spanish music into a new world.

      Music from Cuba
      “The guitar is a little orchestra – seen through the wrong end of a telescope”. Thus Andrés Segovia once described his instrument. The Cuban guitarist and composer, Leo Brouwer (b. 1939) develops the whole range of tonal colours of this miniature orchestra in his works. “Since the tone-colour is the typical characteristic of guitar technique, it should also be a central element in composition…” he says of his approach. Like many Latin-American composers of his generation, he is looking for his own identity and his own language, which should as well lead the way to a national and at the same time universal music. Widely different though his creative phases may be – his works ranging from extremely avant-garde to neo-romantic minimalism – he is never untrue to his Cuban and Latin-American origins. Danza Característica (1958) comes from Brouwer’s first period, which lasted until about 1964. Works produced during this period are strongly marked by Afro-Cuban and Latin- American folk music. One may trace a link with composers like Amadeo Roldán or Federico García Caturla, who fostered a national style of Cuban music in the 20s, and made a particular point of incorporating in their music elements of the previously despised black culture.

      Danza Característica is the first of Brouwer’s works to make its way into the international guitar repertoire. It combines traditional elements, like the “tresillo” and the “cinquillo” rhythms with a sound-world which is reminiscent of Bartók. The basis of Danza Característica is the Cuban song Quítate de la acera, which means something like “Get off the sidewalk!” This Afro-Cuban ditty, very popular in Cuba, is in traditional conga rhythm, mostly danced by the black population on (!) the street – so neither at home, nor on the sidewalk!

      Elogio de la Danza (1964) announces the arrival of a second creative period, in which Brouwer turns increasingly to new avant-garde techniques, to the point of atonality and abstraction (as in La espiral eterna). Elogio de la Danza is also still strongly influenced by Afro- Cuban elements, although tending towards new sounds and tonalities. The character of the work recalls a ritual ceremony of the Yoruba cult, still practised in Cuba. Cuba is full of the most varied religious cults, most of them are imported by black slaves from Africa (mainly from Nigeria). After the freeing of the slaves, these ceremonies were no longer celebrated in secret, and were even opened to the white population. The Cuban historian Fernando Ortíz describes this fusion of Spanish and African culture into something essentially Cuban as “transculturation”. Thus it is hardly to be wondered at that Elogio de la Danza, which was commissioned by choreographer Luis Trápaga for a ballet production at the Havana theatre, is inofficially called the “Cuban national anthem” – not just among guitarists…

      A turn towards the neo-romantic, which characterizes his third creative period, Brouwer describes as “a necessity” and “a rediscovery”. In the 70s, after his works had reached total abstraction and tonal alienation, he thought his way back, step by step, to his national and tonal inheritance. In his Cuban Landscape with Carillons (1986) Brouwer paints with fine detail and newly minimalistic sounds a portrait of the rich and many-coloured nature of Cuba.

      The recital ends with an old Latin-American folk-song, which Brouwer arranged in his own style for guitar. This native melody from the high plains of the Altiplano, between Perú and Bolivia, sings of a time when Cristóbal Colón had not yet landed to conquer the New World for Spain, and the destruction of its oldest culture by the European invaders had not yet begun.

      Johannes Tonio Kreusch

      CD 2

      Guitar Music of Heitor Villa-Lobos and Alberto Ginastera

      Heitor Villa-Lobos and Alberto Ginastera, driving forces of the Latin-American Modernist movement, composed relatively sparingly for the “national instrument” of their home countries. In fact the Sonata Op. 47 is the only piece Ginastera ever composed for the guitar. Nonetheless they both lastingly enriched the guitar repertoire with the compositions included on this CD. Villa-Lobos’ Etudes and Ginastera’s Sonata undoubtedly belong amongst the most important pieces composed for guitar this century. One can sense the deep and immediate attachment of both composers to the culture and history of Latin America in these pieces; they fruitfully contrast tradition with the new ideas and sounds of their modernist world. Both the Etudes and the Sonata were composed in Europe. One could say that Heitor Villa-Lobos and Alberto Ginastera have travelled back down the road on which their fathers came under great hardship when they brought their alien culture onto the untouched continent. This meeting of cultures so different, this straddling of supposedly great opposites, this fusion of European (avant-garde) music, often strongly characerised by the intellect, with the archaic, natural music of the native peoples of Latin America, is the starting point for the work of both these composers and reaches an even more intense clarity in their pieces for guitar. The music of Heitor Villa-Lobos (Rio de Janeiro, 1887–1959) is steeped in the spirit of Brazil. In his impetuous and self-assured manner he apparently said once “I am the folklore”, and so demonstrated his deep attachment to the music and culture of his country. However his music was misunderstood and rejected before he became one of the most celebrated composers in Brazil and before musicians such as Andrés Segovia and Arthur Rubinstein took his name around the world. At the beginning of his career he made a living as a travelling musician, namely, a “Chorão” (a member of a Brazilian chôro band) and improvised the “Chôros” (based in fact on such dances of European origin as the mazurka, the polka and the waltz) at his home in the clubs of Rio de Janeiro.

      All his life Villa-Lobos, whose knowledge of music was mostly self-taught, retained this immediacy in music-making and musical experimentation, always in search of new ideas in sound. Even though his music is sometimes reminiscent of the French Impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, and his friendships with Varèse or Milhaud certainly influenced his compositions and although at that time it was almost impossible to resist the effect of the new music of composers like Stravinsky, Prokofiev or Bartók, Villa-Lobos nonetheless developed his own individual and unmistakable style: his music is in search of new sounds and tonal possibilities, but always deeply inspired by the colours of Brazil, with all its diverse influences from the South American Indian, Black and European cultures. It is certainly no accident that the manuscript of his 12 Etudes for guitar from 1928, which originated in Paris, is titled “Etudes pour la guitarra” (on the front page he also uses the term “guitarre”). The guitar, which accompanied Villa-Lobos throughout life, does not become a French “guitare”, but retains its original name “guitarra” even in France. The second manuscript used for this recording, which states “Paris, 1929” as the place and date of origin, but was signed by Villa-Lobos with “Rio de Janeiro 1948” even bears the title “12 Estudos para Violão”. “Violão” is the Brazilian/Portuguese name for the guitar. Although the Etudes were composed in Paris, and are certainly influenced by the music played there at that time, this music is rooted in Brazil. This cycle is permeated with motifs and ideas from Brazilian folk music and for instance includes Chôro, Chorinho, Chorão, Modhina, Seresta, Waltz and Mazurka. The ambiguity which arises from the title of the manuscript, a title which was not used in publication, has a well-known parallel in music history: Johann Sebastian Bach gave his Sonatas and Partitas for Violin the title “Sei Solo” in the manuscript. The composition gains an entirely new meaning if one interprets “Sei Solo” as “Six (Sonatas and Partitas) for the One (Creator)”. Johann Sebastian Bach was a further important source of inspiration for Villa-Lobos and so the first Etude, called Prelude in the manuscript, is reminiscent of a Bach Prelude. The manuscript from 1928 (this recording is mainly based on this particular manuscript, but also makes use of the 1929/48 one) proves impressively just how well Villa-Lobos knew the guitar. Villa-Lobos elaborated the fingering for the musician in great detail and the agogic indications as well as the intended dynamics are even more closely specified. The printing mistakes, which have never been corrected in all editions until this day, also become visible. Since Heitor Villa-Lobos’ music will always have an improvisational character, it remains the musician’s decision to what extent one includes the deviations from the 1928 manuscript (such as the long middle section of Etude No. 10) or assumes that Villa- Lobos consciously intended to alter these passages. In any case we gain an insight into the creation of this great cycle, with which Villa- Lobos gave to the guitar something of comparable significance as Chopin gave to the piano with his Etudes. Heitor Villa-Lobos dedicated his 12 Etudes to the great Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia (the dedication can only be found in the 1929/48 manuscript). Apparently the latter also played an indirect role in the composition of Alberto Ginastera’s Sonata. When Ginastera was still only in his twenties, Segovia apparently suggested he compose for the guitar. Ginastera was hesitant, admitting that he knew nothing about the peculiarities and possibilities of this “national instrument”. Upon this Segovia is said to have advised him to compose as if he were writing only for the left hand of a pianist. Only 40 years later did Ginastera feel sufficiently ready to compose for this important folk instrument of his home country. The Sonata Op. 47 transcends the boundaries of traditional guitar playing techniques and does not adhere in any way to Segovia’s advice (and is hence not dedicated to him). Ginastera himself described the piece as “a work of far reaching composition, embodying the music of a whole continent, in which the interpreter can demonstrate his qualities”. The work of Alberto Evaristo Ginastera, born into a family of Catalonian and Italian origins in Buenos Aires in 1916, is steeped in the nationalistic idiom. All his life his greatest source of inspiration was Argentinian folk music, even though he suffered great disappointments in his home country: an opponent of the dictator Perón, Ginastera was forbidden to teach at the Conservatory in 1945; after his opera Bomarzo was banned on political grounds, he left his home country in 1968, himself prohibiting all performances of his compositions in Argentina until such a time as he would again give permission, and emigrated to Geneva, where he died in 1983. Quite contrary to his famous compatriot Astor Piazzolla, whose compositions were directed mostly toward the Tango which is strongly rooted in Europe, Ginastera remained firmly rooted in the songs and dances of the Gauchos and Quechua Indians. The beginning of the Sonata compellingly underlines this attitude. Esordio – a solemn prelude, reminiscent of a baroque overture in the improvisational character of its beginning – commences with the sound of the open guitar strings. This chord, which appears throughout the Sonata in its basic and in altered form, has become symbolic in Ginastera’s compositions. Ever since first appearing in his Danzas Argentinas, it has played an increasingly central role in later works (such as the first string quartet or the first piano sonata). This chord is a symbol of the music of the “Gauchos” (the cattle herds of the Pampas, mostly descendants of Indian nomads) and of their instrument: the guitar. The second part of Esordio begins with a song inspired by the music of the “Quechua-Indians”. (The “Quechua-Indians” were the ruling class of the Inca Empire). The rhythm of this song is a “Vidala”, a carnival- song, mostly accompanied only by guitar and drums, played here as percussive beats on the guitar. The folklore material has been distorted almost into the surreal, its harmonies are also reminiscent of archaic folk music with its frequently microtonal resonance and so prepares the mood of the second movement. According to Ginastera the Scherzo is based on “an interplay of shadow and light, of nocturnal and magical ambience, of dynamic contrasts, distant dances, of surrealistic impressions”. It transports the listener into the magical shimmering nocturnal mood of the “Pampas” (Quechua for “treeless plain”, by which they mean the Argentinian grasslands, reaching from the Atlantic coast to the edge of the Andes). In the “Scherzo” fragments of dances and rhythms of the Gauchos sound from afar (for example “Chacarera” or “Gato”) fused with modern composition techniques such as 12 note writing or the use of clusters. This mood is suddenly interrupted by the sound of the Beckmesser theme from Wagner’s Meistersinger opera, which brings the second movement to its end. This theme, which appears as a distant vision with its light flageolet- notes, does not appear at precisely this central place in the middle of the Sonata accidentally. The Viennese Eduard Hanslick was a sharp critic of Wagner and the character of Beckmesser was intended to denigrate him. Ginastera was well aware that his composition would not be met only with open ears. This work is at home neither with the strict keepers of tradition nor in the circles of the modern Avant-Garde. Canto is described by Ginastera as “lyrical and rhapsodic, expressive and breathless like a love-poem”. It has the character of a “Harawi” from the ancient Inca-culture, a slow, solemn lament, sung at a parting, a death watch, or from lovesickness. Finale, the fiery close of the Sonata, once more unites the diverse rhythms and dances of the Pampas and contrasts traditional guitarplaying with new techniques. With this sonata Alberto Ginastera provides impressive proof of his great imaginative gift. Although he never learned to play the guitar like Heitor Villa-Lobos, it has nonetheless been possible for him to look deeply into the soul of this instrument.

      Johannes Tonio Kreusch


      CD 3

      Portraits of Cuba

      Tres Imágenes Cubanas (1996)
      In 1994, I met Tulio Peramo for the first time during the guitar festival in Havana. At that time, I was 24 and Tulio was nearly twice as old. The age difference didn’t matter. I was touched by his wise, philosophical and poetic thoughts. He, though, had to deal with my youthful energy! From this energy and Tulio’s beautiful musical thoughts, the music on this disc arose as did a deep friendship between the two of us. Tulio doesn’t like to speak about his music, since music should speak for itself – and it truly does. However, I wanted to give the listener some insights into some of the colourful ideas and the interesting background that inspired this music.

      The music of Tulio Peramo is deeply inspired by his native country, Cuba. Tres Imágenes Cubanas, the first piece Tulio wrote for me, is meant to be a “history” of Cuban music, combining all the different elements and styles of this culture. Tres Imágenes Cubanas juxtaposes the string quartet, one of the principal musical body of European classical music, with one of the most important Cuban instruments: the guitar. The music itself reflects a strong crosspollination of different cultures, namely the interaction between European (mainly Spanish) and African cultures, that have co-existed in Cuba for centuries. Therefore, Tulio first thought to call this work “Mulata”, a term for the beautiful mixed-coloured Cuban women. Throughout most of Cuban history, Cuban society did not accept African culture as part of its artistic life. However, with staunch support from many Cuban writers, painters and musicians who were all deeply influenced by African culture, this began to change. Some of these artists include Fernando Ortiz, Alejo Carpentier, Wilfredo Lám, Amadeo Roldán, Ernesto Lecuona and Alejandro García Caturla. As a result of their efforts, “Afrocubism” became an integral part of Cuba’s artistic life. In fact, today’s Cuban culture is regarded as a “tropical cocktail” of influences. Spanish, French, Nigerian and Asian culture all contribute to Cuba’s rich cultural landscape. Though the interplay between Spanish and African styles is the most readily apparent aspect of Tres Imágenes Cubanas, elements from all of the backgrounds mentioned above permeate the work. Aside from reflecting “Afrocubism”, Tres Imágenes is also an homage to Alejandro García Caturla (1906–1940), one of the leading figures of the Afrocubism movement. In fact, at some moments in the first part of Tres Imágenes, there are quasi-quotations of the opening theme of Caturla’s Obertura Cubana for orchestra. The first movement is written in sonata-form: the opening theme has a Spanish flavor, while the second theme has African elements, something akin to a slow “conga”, an African street dance. Within this theme, one can find the Cuban “clave” rhythm. The second part, which reminds me to the spirit of Caturla’s “Berceuse Campesina”, introduces the Cuban peasant “guajira” rhythm. Again the general idea is a classical European structure: the “Liedform”. The third movement, a mélange of Spanish and African influences, is written in rondo form, but ends with the famous Cuban “son” that again makes use of the “clave” rhythm.

      In 1997, I premiered Tres Imágenes Cubanas at the Gasteig Hall in Munich, Germany. One year later, Leo Brouwer invited me to do the world premiere of the orchestral version at the Teatro National during the Havana Guitar Festival together with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. In 1999, with the help of a grant from La Salle University, Philadelphia/ Pennsylvania Tulio and I were invited to do a US-tour presenting his music in performances with the Griffin String Quartet.

      Aires de la Tierra (1998)
      During this trip, Tulio heard another premiere of one of his new compositions. On March 6, 1999, Mezzo-soprano Nan-Maro Babakhanian and I premiered the song cycle, Aires de la tierra, at Carnegie Hall in New York. Since Tulio first began his career as a professional Opera singer, I wanted him to combine his two souls: singing and composing. (Before writing this song cycle, Tulio had never considered returning to the singing world. In fact, it took quite some time for him to feel comfortable with the idea!)

      In this song-cycle, Tulio shows his poetic side writing the words to the music himself. Fiesta, the last song of the cycle, is written in “Bozal”, a language reminiscent of the Spanish slang spoken by black slaves in Cuba during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (Tulio included the following description in his correspondence to me: “Aires de la Tierra should be sung by a woman who possesses a lyrical voice, but not in an operatic sense. The voice should be very open and clear as well as aggressive, sensual and tender. Remember the Cuban ‘mulatas’ !”).

      Fiesta is based on the “tango-conga” rhythm, a rhythm that can be described as a fast, yet less intense “habañera”. This particular rhythm was used extensively in Cuban comic theatre during the first half of this century. Fiesta keeps some of this theatrical spirit to make the audience enjoy the moment. As Tulio describes it, one can experience here the heritage of the old Spanish literary tradition that came to Cuba and Latin America during the colonial days. (The anonymous medieval novel, El Lazarillo de Tormes, is a good example of this aesthetic). Most of the time this literary world alludes to physical pleasures and to politics: a strange and unique blend of tragedy and comedy that is an intrinsic part of the magical Latin American world.

      When songs in that style became part of Cuban popular theatre, they kept their roguish intentions, but began to mutate into something more refined. Written in the same tradition, though not as direct as Fiesta, is the opening song, Vegas de Vueltabajo, translated roughly as “Down road”. Vueltabajo was the name given to the Western side of Cuba back in the colonial days. In particular, this term refers to the province of “Pinar del Río”, where one can find the best soil for tobacco plantations. Luna de Guamá uses the traditional “guajira” rhythm and is an excellent example of Cuban rural music. Guamá was the name of a native village, located in the south middle side of the island. This song, along with Mar, with its beautiful guitar solo parts and Psalmody, a lullaby for a dead child, build a very intimate and tender contrast to the extroverted beginning and end of the cycle.

      En Tardes de Lluvia (1999)
      In May 1999, I was on tour in Latin America as a member of a Jazz-trio together with my brother Cornelius. We also traveled to Cuba, where we performed several concerts and where I was also scheduled for a solo-recital at the Gran Teatro de la Habana. The endless conversations with Tulio, my brother, and myself and our aimless walks through Havana, around the shore and into little Cuban rural villages – like the fishing village “Cojimar”, where people seem not to know the word “time” – are reflected in En Tardes de Lluvia. There is also an impressionistic touch to this music, which reminds me a bit of the aesthetics of Debussy or Ravel. During Tulio’s first trip to the United States, we were able to spend a day together in the Impressionist’s Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. After a long day, talking about these wonderful paintings, as well as about the music and poetry connected to Impressionism, I asked Tulio to write a Suite for solo-guitar in this spirit. En Tardes de Lluvia – “On Rainy Evenings” was written during a period of heavy rain – the perfect poetic surrounding! This music takes inspiration from Impressionism but nevertheless is Cuban in its inner soul. (Ironically we had unusually heavy rain during the recording of this Suite…)

      Canto de Septiembre (1999)
      Canto de Septiembre was composed on Tulio’s birthday in 1999… “I’m 26 years old”, insisted Tulio on that day with a straight face. Actually born in 1948 in Havana, Tulio’s playful sense of humor speaks volumes about his cheerful, though introspective personality. Originally trained as a professional opera singer, Tulio began his career at the National Opera House of Havana. At the (real) age of 25, disappointed and personally harmed by the intrigues and flamboyant life of this singing world, he left the opera in order to start a new life. As he recalls: “26 years ago I found myself at a point of no return: I had lost everything – the faith in my work and even my social backgrounds with all my friends, who couldn’t understand this decision – but I still had myself with the deeply felt desire to change my life.” After a difficult time lasting several years, nearly isolated from his usual environment, only supported by his close family and inspired by solitude and the silence of thoughts, did he come to understand the need to become a composer in order to find a new way of expression.

      For me, it is a miracle how one can capture the soul of the guitar in such a refined way without being able to play that instrument himself. (Although Tulio is always proud to show that he knows how to play the introduction of one major guitar piece – Leo Brouwer’s Elogio de la Danza – by plucking the open E-string three times). I am delighted to introduce Tulio Peramo to the music world!

      Johannes Tonio Kreusch


      Tracklist hide

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      • Inspiración
        Johannes Tonio Kreusch plays music from Paraguay, Spain and Cuba
        • Johannes Tonio Kreusch
          • 1.Inspiración (Preludio)08:00
        • MUSIC FROM PARAGUAY
          Agustin Barrios-Mangoré (1885–1944)
          • 2.Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios (La Última Canción)04:06
          • 3.Vals No. 305:08
          • 4.Las abejas (Estudio)02:40
        • La Catedral
          • 5.Preludio (Saudade)02:17
          • 6.Andante religioso01:58
          • 7.Allegro solemne04:16
        • MUSIC FROM SPAIN
          Francisco Tarrega (1854–1909)
          • 8.Capricho Árabe (Serenade)05:41
          • 9.María (Gavota)01:37
        • Isaac Albéniz
          • 10.Asturias (Leyenda from Op.47/232)
            (Transcription: J.T. Kreusch)
            07:56
        • Joaquín Rodrigo (1901–1999)
          • 11.Invocación y Danza (Homenaje a Manuel de Falla)08:23
        • MUSIC FROM CUBA
          Leo Brouwer (1939)
          • 12.Danza Característica (Para el “Quítate de la acera”)02:24
        • Elogio de la Danza
          • 13.Lento03:46
          • 14.Obstinato03:00
          • 15.Paisaje cubano con campagnas06:08
          • 16.Danza del altiplano (Sobre un tema folklorico)03:33
        • Johannes Tonio Kreusch
          • 17.Inspiración (Conclusio)06:21
        • Total:01:17:14
        more CD 2
        • Johannes Tonio Kreusch plays Guitar Music of
          Heitor Villa-Lobos and Alberto Ginastera
          • Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959)
            Etudes pour la Guitarra
            Paris 1928/29 (manuscript version)
            • 1.No. 1 Etude des arpèges (Prelude) – Animé02:09
            • 2.No. 2 Des arpèges – Très animé02:16
            • 3.No. 3 Des arpèges – Un peu animé03:59
            • 4.No. 4 Des accords répétés - Un peu modéré04:11
            • 5.No. 5 Andantino02:35
            • 6.No. 6 Un peu animé01:32
            • 7.No. 7 Très animé05:22
            • 8.No. 8 Modéré03:09
            • 9.No. 9 Des Ornaments – Un peu animé04:25
            • 10.No. 10 Animé (Version de 1928)04:10
            • 11.No. 11 Lent03:53
            • 12.No. 12 Un peu animé02:25
          • Alberto Ginastera (1916–1983)
            Sonata for Guitar Op.47
            Genève 1976
            • 13.I. Esordio03:43
            • 14.II. Scherzo03:36
            • 15.III. Canto04:25
            • 16.IV. Finale02:23
          • Total:54:13
          more CD 3
          • Portraits of Cuba
            Johannes Tonio Kreusch plays New Cuban Music · Introducing Tulio Peramo – World Premier Recording
            • Aires de la Tierra (composed 1998)
              • 1.I. Vegas de Vueltabajo02:07
              • 2.II. Mar05:13
              • 3.III. Luna de Guamá03:00
              • 4.IV. Salmodia02:27
              • 5.V. Fiesta
                Nan-Maro Babakhanian - mezzo-soprano
                Johannes Tonio Kreusch – guitar
                02:10
            • En Tardes de Lluvia (composed 1999)
              • 6.I. Preludio (Mágico)
                II. Prosas líricas
                04:41
              • 7.Junto al mar (Luminoso)04:07
              • 8.Diálogos (Con garbo)04:26
              • 9.Un paseo nocturno (Lento, con una cierta melancolía latina)04:11
              • 10.III. Murmullos y Danza (Preludiando – Toccata, mosso assai)
                Johannes Tonio Kreusch – guitar
                05:51
            • Tres Imágenes Cubanas - Homenaje a Caturla en su 90 Aniversario (composed 1996)
              • 11.I. Mosso Ritmico10:12
              • 12.II. Moderato08:20
              • 13.III. Vivo
                Johannes Tonio Kreusch - guitar
                The Griffin String Quartet
                09:28
              • 14.Canto de Septiembre (composed 1999)
                Johannes Tonio Kreusch – guitar
                02:37
            • Total:01:08:50
            more CD 4
            • panta rhei
              Johannes Tonio Kreusch meets Markus Stockhausen
              • 1.Vinyl Intro00:06
              • 2.Blossom02:37
              • 3.Young03:45
              • 4.En Route05:03
              • 5.Fly !03:31
              • 6.Highlands05:41
              • 7.Flowing02:06
              • 8.Invocación03:44
              • 9.Tender02:18
              • 10.Virtual Union03:58
              • 11.Soulmate10:19
              • 12.Prelude to Silence03:36
              • 13.Resonance03:42
            • Total:50:26