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Postcards from Erica – February 2024

Trying to find unaccompanied cello music by Hispanic and Latino/Latina composers? Look no further. 

February 2024 Postcards from Erica

This month, I’m sending you the eleventh installment in this year’s series of postcards on unaccompanied works for cello by Hispanic and Latino/Latina composers. You can find my previous installments here.

I created my online “just-the-facts-ma’am”-style digital postcards to introduce listeners to new-to-you cello music and to help cellists, orchestra directors, cello teachers, and students seeking new repertoire, contest pieces, and supplemental literature.

These monthly postcards give you the information you need to help you choose a piece that’s right for you. I also include links to make it easy for you to locate and purchase the sheet music you want. I hope you enjoy exploring these pieces as much as I did selecting them.

You can also read a quick round-up of my postcards featuring works by Black composers, my series featuring women composers, or revisit all of my postcards.

Postcard #1: Duende by Elisenda Fábregas

From the composer’s website bio: Spanish/American composer Elisenda Fábregas (b. 1955, Terrassa, Catalonia) settled in Catalunya in early 2022 after living and working in South Korea and the USA. During her early career, Elisenda performed as a pianist throughout Europe and the US, including a Carnegie Recital Hall debut in New York City in 1983. These experiences and training as a performer ultimately propelled her towards musical composition.

  • Work Title: Duende
  • Composer: Elisenda Fábregas
  • Year Composed: 2020
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration: 2:30
  • Number of Pages: 1
  • Number of Measures: 30
  • Tempo: quarter note = 30, 35
  • Difficulty Level: advanced/professional
  • Highest Position Reached: high thumb position
  • Technique Employed: bass, tenor and treble clefs; 3/8, 5/8, 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 time signatures; triplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, and septuplets; double and triple stops; harmonics, pizzicato, and grace notes
  • Publisher: composer
  • Where to Obtain: elisendafabregas.com
  • Cost of Sheet Music*: $8.95

Recording

Program Notes

“Duende is an arrangement of one of the pieces in the collection Colores Andaluces for cello and piano written in 2006. The arrangement was made for and dedicated to Catalan cellist Roger Morello Ros.

Duende was premiered by Roger Morelló Ros at the opening concert of the chamber concert series commemorating the centenary of the Association of Concerts of Reus.

Duende is a soul-searching type of piece – sometimes a little dark and restless but always generous in its conception. It is my homage to Françoise and her ‘duende’… A term coming from Southern Spain, only certain singers and players have ‘duende’: inspiration, magic, fire, spirit… The word Duende was conceptualized by Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca in his ‘Teoria del Duende.’” – Elisenda Fábregas

Cellist’s Guide

What a gorgeous piece! As Duende is marked Lentissimo and there are many 32nd notes throughout the piece, you will be subdividing from beginning to end. Additionally, there are triple stops in thumb position, so get ready to find notes in less frequently accessed parts of the cello. Make friends with some unusual harmonics as well. It will all be worth it!

Postcard #2: Entre la ternura y el intenso azul by Ileana Perez Velazquez

Excerpted from the composer’s faculty page: Born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, Perez Velázquez received her B.A. in piano and composition from the Higher Institute of Arts (ISA), Havana. When she moved to the United States in 1993, she was already recognized as one of the up-and-coming talents in Cuban composition, winning several national composition awards. Since 2000, she has been a Professor of Music Composition and Electronic Music at Williams College.

  • Work Title: Entre la ternura y el intenso azul
  • Composer: Ileana Perez Velazquez
  • Year Composed: 2004
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration: 10:17
  • Number of Pages: 4
  • Number of Measures: 170
  • Tempo: quarter = 48, 58
  • Difficulty Level: advanced/professional
  • Highest Position Reached: high thumb
  • Technique Employed: bass, tenor and treble clefs; 3/8, 4/8, 5/8, 7/8, 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 5/4  time signatures; triplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, and septuplets; double, triple, and quadruple stops; glissandos, pizzicato, and Bartok pizzicato; hand slap on strings and false harmonics
  • Publisher: composer
  • Where to Obtain: email the composer
  • Cost of sheet music*: $9.50

Recording

Program Notes

“The title refers to that imaginary point of the horizon where tenderness materializes in an intense blue color. The piece is about this process of transformation that could also be placed within us. We go through this process of transformation daily, trying to understand ourselves, our contradictions, and finding and improving the best of ourselves as human beings. This work is dedicated to my friend Ana Ruth Bermudez. I started composing this piece while visiting my friend Ana Ruth in Milwaukee on March 2004. The beauty of the lake and the company of my wonderful friends both old and new friends that I met while visiting Milwaukee, inspired me to start composing this piece while I was there.” – Ileana Perez Velazquez

Cellist’s Guide

The score is a bit daunting at first, simply because the meter keeps shifting. Once you determine that you need to constantly keep the eighth note as the beat and write in some slash marks, things become easier.

The pitches lie pretty well in the hand, so you should be good to go once you establish fingerings.

Postcard #3: Danses de la terra by Elisenda Fábregas

(Excerpted from the composer’s website bio): Fábregas has enjoyed a multifaceted career as a composer, pianist and lecturer. From 2013-21, she was based in Seoul, South Korea, where she was a Visiting Professor of music and cultural studies at Kyung-Hee University Humanitas College (Global Campus). She was a Post-Doctoral Fulbright scholar and holds doctorates from the Peabody Institute in music composition and from Columbia University Teachers College. She received undergraduate and graduate degrees in piano performance from The Juilliard School. Before coming to the US, she also completed the highest studies as a pianist in Barcelona, Spain.

  • Work Title: Danses de la terra
  • Composer: Elisenda Fábregas
  • Year Composed: 2020
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Movements: 4
  • Duration: 10:10
  • Number of pages: 6
  • Number of Measures: 72, 108, 73, 71
  • Tempo: quarter = 100; quarter = 95, 115, dotted quarter = 62; quarter = 80, 100; quarter = 95
  • Difficulty Level: Danse de la terra – intermediate; Dansa de rondalla amorosa – advanced; Ball ceremonial de purificació – advanced; Records de Sardana – mostly intermediate with a few bars at the advanced level
  • Highest Position Reached: 5th, thumb, thumb, 5th
  • Technique Employed:
    • 1st mvmt. – bass clef, 2/4, and 3/4 time signatures; grace notes, pizzicato, trills, harmonics, triplets, and one 14 tuplet; double, triple, and quadruple stops
    • 2nd  mvmt. – bass and treble clefs; 2/8, 3/8, 6/8, 2/4, and 3/4 time signatures; left-hand pizzicato, double, triple, and quadruple stops; grace notes
    • 3rd mvmt. – bass, tenor, and treble clefs; 2/4 and 3/4 time signatures; triplets and sextuplets; double, triple, and quadruple stops; grace notes
    • 4th mvmt. – bass and tenor clefs; 2/4 time signature, double, triple, and quadruple stops; grace notes, pizzicato, triplets, and sextuplets
  • Publisher: composer
  • Where to obtain: elisendafabregas.com
  • Cost of sheet music: $15

Recording

Program Notes

“Danses de la terra (2020) (Catalan dances) for solo cello was written for Catalan cellist Roger Morello Ros who premiered this work at Palau Güell in Barcelona on October 28, 2021. Video of premiere above.

Danses de la terra consists of four dances:

  • I. Ball d’entrada (Opening dance);
  • II. Dansa de rondalla amorosa (Dance of amorous tale);
  • III. Ball ceremonial de purificació (Ceremonial dance of purification);
  • IV. Records de sardana (Memories of sardana).

Although not literally based on traditional Catalan music, this work is inspired by the composer’s childhood memories of Catalonian dances and folk music. As a Catalan living outside Catalonia since 1978, the author recreates a Catalan sound world of melodic and rhythmic folk idioms tinged with emotions from her childhood. This concert will also include other solo cello works by Catalan composers such as Albert Sardà, Josep Maria Guix, and Gaspar Cassadó.” – Elisenda Fabregas (website)

Cellist’s Guide

This light-hearted piece is quite cohesive, but each movement works well on its own as well. The intermediate-level movements would make nice short concert pieces, while an advanced or professional player might choose to play the entire work on a recital. It is not technically that challenging but musically rewarding.

Danses de la terra would be a good choice for cellists looking to work on staccato and rolling chords.



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*Prices given are accurate at the date of the publication of this article. Please check the given links for the current price. The Cello Museum does not control these prices and cannot take responsibility for price changes.

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