Brouwer: Hika And The Young Composer (CD)

Brilliant Classics
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Frederic Zigante

This recording presents some of the most significant early pieces by the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer (b.1939); it also includes other works, such as Hika from 1994 and the third and fourth series of his Estudios sencillos (1981), which show clear similarities with the composer's early style. First to be composed of the works here is a Danza caracteristica from 1956. A popular song melody forms the basis for an Afro-Cuban flavoured fantasy. The Fugue no.1 dates from the following year, when Brouwer was still a teenager: having outlined a theme of Baroque proportions he takes a fairly free attitude to its contrapuntal elaboration, anticipating the concise play of fantasy in the Tres Apuntes of 1959.

Having soon after moved to the US, Brouwer composed the first two books of the Estudios sencillos out of financial necessity, but they have proved among his most enduring and successful works, drawing energy not only from his Cuban heritage but the didactic economy of the Mikrokosmos by Bartók. Almost all of the third and fourth books from the series date from 1981; although Brouwer had both moved back to Cuba by then as well as moved on in his own style towards a more neo-romantic language, he rediscovered the lively economy of thought which runs through the earlier studies, combining it with both neoclassical harmonies and even chance procedures to produce among the most significant collections of guitar studies from the second half of the last century.

‘These short pieces reflect all of Brouwer’s creative genius,’ says Frédéric Zigante, ‘and I have always been fond of them, first as a young student of guitar and later as a guitar teacher. To me, they are an ideal method for weaning young guitarists from the didactic repertory of the 19th century.’ The French-born guitarist bases his career in northern Italy, but he has performed and recorded worldwide, as well as editing more than 40 volumes of guitar music for publishers such as Ricordi and Max Eschig. This new album marks his Brilliant Classics debut.

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Leo Brouwer:

Hika – In memoriam Toru Takemitsu (1996) 
1 – Tempo libero

Tres Apuntes (1959) 
2 – Del “Homenaje a Falla” 
3 – De un fragmento instrumental 
4 – Sobre un canto de Bulgaria 1

Fuga n. 1 (1957)
5 – (♪ = 100) 

20 Estudios Sencillos (1961-1984) 
6 – Estudio I – Mosso
7 – Estudio II «Coral» – Lento 
8 – Estudio III – Rapido 
9 – Estudio IV – Comodo (Allegretto) 
10 – Estudio V «Montuno» – Allegretto 
11 – Estudio VI 
12 – Estudio VII – Il più rapido possibile 
13 – Estudio VIII – Tranquillo 
14 – Estudio IX «Scherzo» 
15 – Estudio X 
16 – Estudio XI – Allegretto 
17 – Estudio XII – Tranquillo – Moderato 
18 – Estudio XIII – Mosso 
19 – Estudio XIV – Allegro 
20 – Estudio XV «Sarabanda» 
21 – Estudio XVI

«Tempo di Ouverture francese» – Grave 
22 – Estudio XVII – Moderato 
23 – Estudio XVIII – Moderato quasi lento 
24 – Estudio XIX – Mosso (Allegretto) 
25 – Estudio XX – Mosso

Elogio de la Danza (1964) 
26 – Lento 
27 – Obstinado 

Danza característica (1956)
28 – Allegro