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Postcards from Erica September 2023

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

Postcards from Erica September 2023

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

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.

September Postcard #1: Fantasia – “El Paño Fino” by Salvador Martinez

Salvador Martínez García (b. 1962) is a guitarist and composer and music teacher from Murcia, Spain. In addition to studying guitar, harmony, and composition at the Murcia Superior Conservatory of Music, he also studied cello and musicology. He is a member of the Tárrega Classical Guitar Duo, with which he performs concerts around Europe and the Middle East.

  • Title: Fantasia – “El Paño Fino”
  • Composer: Salvador Martinez
  • Year Composed: 2006
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: 5:40
  • Number of Measures: 162
  • Number of Pages: 5
  • Tempo: quarter = 90, 120
  • Difficulty Level: late intermediate
  • Highest Position Reached: depending on your fingering, 7th position or low thumb position
  • Technique Employed: bass & tenor clefs, 6/8 & 3/4 time signatures, pizzicato & left-hand pizzicato while playing arco, double & triple stops (and one quadruple stop), glissando, false harmonics, grace notes, accents both on and off the beat
  • Publisher: composer
  • Where to Acquire: IMSLP
  • Cost of Sheet Music*: free


Program Notes

 Cellist’s Guide

This piece covers many new skills for the late intermediate cellist. Fantasia incorporates an unusually high number of chords and cross-string arpeggios, so if you have not played a lot of chords, get ready for a workout! Passages in 5th-7th position offer a chance to learn a new region of the instrument as well as practice note reading the upper reaches of bass clef. Additionally, here is the rare opportunity to practice frequently alternating between 6/8 & 3/4 time signatures. Rocking between two and three strings with the bow is also a frequent occurrence in this piece.

September Postcard #2: “Pour Jane” by Jordi Cervelló

Catalan composer Jordi Cervelló was a native of Barcelona, Spain, whose primary instrument was violin. For fourteen years, he was a professor at the Barcelona Conservatory. He is the author of Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Technique and received the National Music Prize from the Catalan government in 2010.

  • Title:Pour Jane
  • Composer: Jordi Cervelló
  • Year Composed: 1935
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: 3:53
  • Number of Measures: 65
  • Number of Pages: 2
  • Tempo: quarter = 80
  • Difficulty Level: late intermediate
  • Highest Position Reached:  4th
  • Technique Employed: bass & treble clefs, cut time, triplets, tenuto, double stops, many accidentals, harmonics & false harmonics
  • Publisher: Editorial BOILEAU
  • Where to Acquire: Musicalion
  • Cost of Sheet Music*: €21.50


Program Notes

“In May, 2016 I had the honor to meet Jane Goodall through Alberto Sampablo and Frederico Bogdanowicz of the Goodall Institute in Barcelona. I have long admired Jane. She is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met. She has always been compared to the Doctor and organist, Albert Schweitzer who was also known for his work on the African continent.  During a conversation in Girona, where Jane had a large event, we were able to speak freely about varied aspects of life but especially about the need to improve our planet and additionally, about music. I was tremendously impressed by her–her expressions, gestures and the comforting spirit she emanates.

During our conversation, the violin Concerto by Mendelssohn came up as one of Jane’s favorite works. The work is one which has been close to me from the first moment that I heard it many years ago. I wanted to write a kind of “souvenir” for Jane of our meeting by evoking the Mendelssohn Concerto. I chose the first movement, Allegro molto appassionato, in which the most sublime themes of the Concerto are found and I adapted them for cello with a reserved atmosphere and an elegiac character.”  – Jordi Cervelló

Cellists Guide

How lucky are we as cellists who get to play motifs from the Mendelssohn violin concerto! In playing this beautiful piece, we get to focus on three things: bow distribution,  double stops, and lower position “fingerboard geometry.’

Throughout Pour Jane, the player has the opportunity to work on slow bow speed, fitting many notes into one bow to execute smooth lyrical lines. The use of major and minor 3rds and 6ths provides a place for finger strengthening as well as intonation practice. Lastly, the cross-string passages in half – 4th position, especially on the lower strings, help the cellist enhance familiarity within a position.

September Postcard #3: “Armadura” by Andrea Casarrubios

Spanish-born cellist and composer Andrea Casarrubios has played as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In addition to composing, Casarrubios serves as a teacher and mentor, coaching young musicians on both piano and cello at her private studio as well as undergraduate and graduate students at music academies and colleges, music festivals, and masterclasses around the world.

  • Title:Armadura
  • Composer: Andrea Casarrubios
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Year Composed: 2022
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: 7:57
  • Number of Measures: 91
  • Number of Pages: 4
  • Tempo: c.a. half = 55, quarter = 60, 75, 85, 90, 110, 120
  • Difficulty Level: maybe early advanced
  • Highest Position Reached: high thumb position
  • Technique Employed: bass, tenor & treble clefs; 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 2/2 time signatures; scordatura tuning with the A string tuned down to a G, harmonics & false harmonics, grace notes, glissandos, double & triple stops, pizzicato
  • Publisher: composer
  • Where to Purchase Score:
  • Cost of Score*: $17


Program Notes

“The seed for the concept and the music for Armadura developed while spending time with the sketches and words of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. In a poem she wrote in 1953 there are two lines that spoke to me the most as i was writing tis music: La vida callada…dadora de mundos…which can be translated as necessary to protect the space, the worlds that coalesce within it, and how easily — particularly in an age of social media — that center can be disrupted by fear, injustice and pain.  Armadura is an attempt to evoke these contrasting yet linked phenomena: the silent life and self-imposed fortress, the fragility of the nascent worlds within and the effort exerted to protect them.

The music is founded on a heartbeat rhythm, which increases in intensity over time until we reach the end of the work, when the main theme is presented one last time, unprotected, with honesty and simplicity.” – Andrea Casarrubios

Cellist’s Guide

Armadura is written in scordatura tuning, with the A string tuned down to G, as in the 5th Bach Suite. Two versions of the score are included: one as we would read it and the other with both the written and sounding versions layered on top of each other. That is so accommodating!

This piece is not particularly technically difficult, maybe late intermediate level. What makes it challenging to play, is getting used to the fact that what you are hearing is a whole step below what you are reading. Casarrubios is helpful by frequently notating which string the cellist should be playing on to avoid confusion.


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*Prices are accurate at the time of article publication, but The Cello Museum cannot take responsibility for subsequent price changes.