David Russell, guitar (Scotland) - Saturday, June 10, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.

Cleveland Institute of Music, Kulas Hall
Saturday, June 10, 2017, at 8:00 p.m.

José Brocá (1805-1882)

    Fantasia in E

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722)

Two Parties:
Partie 1 *

Partie 2 *
Enrique Granados (1867-1916)

    "Celebration Homage on the 150th Anniversary of His Birth" 

        Selected Works TBA


Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)

    Sonata K. 308 *
    Sonata K. 309 *

Stephen Goss (1964)

    Cantigas de Santiago (dedicated to David and María Jesús)
Quen a Virgen be servira (Alfonso X, EL Sabio)
Ondas do mare de Vigo (Martin Codax)
Cantiga CLXVI (Alfonso X, El Sabio)
Kyrie Trope (Codex Calixtinus)
A madre de Deus (Alfonso X, El Sabio)
Al ondas que eu vin veer (Martin Codax)
          Non e gran causa (Alfonso X, El Sabio)

Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909)

    “Beauty and Charm”

         Selected Works TBA

* Transcription by David Russell

Please silence all electronic devices, including cellular phones, wristwatches, and pagers. Photography, video or audio recording are not permitted during this concert.


Born in the province of Tarragona, José Brocá (1805-1882) was largely self-taught, although he studied briefly with Dionisio Aguado. Admired as a player, he devoted much of his life to teaching, and did much to establish the popularity of Aguado’s method “Escuela de Guitarra.” Among his distinguished students were Felip Pedrell and José Ferrer, who wrote to Brocá in a dedication: “much of my progress on the guitar I owe to you, whose skill and good taste enthralled me so many times.” Sadly, Brocá suffered a stroke that, for the last decade of his life, left him unable to play the guitar.

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722) seems forever destined to be a historical footnote—he was J. S. Bach’s predecessor at the Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig. In his day, however, he was an impressive polymath: lawyer, novelist, translator, and music teacher. His novel Der musickalische Quacksalber (still in print today, and can be found online) is a vicious parody of a musical charlatan, the main character described thus: “Nonetheless there are people who may understand how some notes go together or may even scratch out ‘La folie d’Espagne’ on the lute or saw away at ‘The Angel’s Bell’ on the viola da gamba, who always act as if Jupiter were their father and everyone has to revere them as Apollo.” Kuhnau himself was far from a charlatan. A formidable organ and harpsichord player, he was in the vanguard of composers who established the keyboard as the dominant solo instrument. His solo keyboard works are among the first to be published. His now ascendant reputation is reflected by the German publisher Pfefferkorn Musikverlag, which in 2014 started a project to publish all his surviving vocal works. Doubtless Kuhnau would be delighted that this publishing house is in Leipzig, where he spent most of his professional life.

During his life, Enrique Granados (1867-1916) was a famous pianist—deservedly so, as a handful of recordings show him to have been a refined and lyrical player. Indeed, he was dubbed “The Spanish Chopin.” Together with Felip Pedrell, Granados founded the Granados Academy in 1901, a piano school that he directed to the end of his life. In a delightful quirk of circular history, this academy was taken over by his friend and former student Frank Marshall, who taught Alicia de Larrocha, herself a renowned interpreter of Granados. For all his skill, Granados suffered severe stage fright: “If in an audience of a thousand I know that 999 like me but one does not, I will play poorly. Because for me that one person will be the only one out there, and I know that nothing I do will please him.” It was, however, another fear of his—he was morbidly afraid of water—that brought him to an untimely end. Responding to an invitation from Woodrow Wilson, he reluctantly undertook an Atlantic voyage to the United States. On the return trip, his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. Granados, safely aboard a lifeboat, saw his wife struggling in the water. He leaped in to save her. Both drowned. In a sad irony, only half the ship he was on sank. The part where his cabin was located didn’t sink, and was safely towed into harbor. All passengers on that part of the ship survived. Had Granados and his wife been in their cabin during the disaster, they likely also would have survived.

At birth, it seemed unlikely that Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) would surpass his father Alessandro, one of the most famed composers in Europe. Certainly he never equalled his father’s stature in operas and cantatas. But his talent found its best expression not in vocal music, like most Italian composers of his time, but at the keyboard. At age 15, he became organist at the Royal Chapel in Naples, doubtless through the pull of his powerful father. His skill at the keyboard became legendary. Dr. Charles Burney, a music writer of the time, reported that a harpischordist named Roseingrave, as he played, noticed Scarlatti deferentially standing by and listening. Curious, Roseingrave relinquished his place at the keyboard and asked Scarlatti to play. What he heard astonished him: “He thought ten thousand devils had been at the instrument; he never heard such passages of execution and effect before.” So thoroughly did Scarlatti outplay him that Roseingrave in despair refused to touch a keyboard for a month.

In late 2014, this short paragraph appeared on David Russell’s personal website: “Steve Goss (b. 1964) wrote a new beautiful piece, Cantigas de Santiago. He dedicated the work to both María Jesús [Russell’s wife] and myself. It is a real honour to be the recipient of this wonderful piece of music. I enjoyed learning it and I love playing it every time.” Thus, Mr. Russell alerted the guitar world to a substantial new work, and he premiered it January 31, 2015 at the Barbican Centre in London.
The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a network of ancient pilgrim routes across Europe, converging at the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. Goss’ Cantigas de Santiago re-imagines medieval music associated with this historic pilgrimage. The seven movements draw on three sources:

as de Santa Mari, a mid 13th century collection of 420 poems set to music.
Cantigas de Amigo (“song of a friend”), a late 13th century collection of Iberian secular songs.
• Codex Calixtinus
, an exquisite 12th century illuminated manuscript that’s a travel guide for pilgrims following the Camino.

It’s perhaps unlikely that Mr. Russell needs a travel guide to the Camino de Santiago. He and his wife have walked it themselves and, in fact, they first met in Santiago de Compostela.

Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909) was born to a hard working but poor family. As a child, he helped in any way he could to earn extra cash, sometimes spinning hemp and twisting rope for the manufacture of hemp-soled shoes. Quickly excelling on the guitar, he often ran away from home to play for coins at local taverns. Once he journeyed so far from home that his ever devoted father had to take a train to fetch him. Upon finding his wayward son, he had no money left for return tickets. Young Francisco gamely kept playing for coins until he and his father could afford partial payment for train tickets. Once on the train, Francisco played some more, until they collected enough to pay the balance. The mature Tárrega, however, never suffered from poverty of musical taste. A master of the musical miniature, he also crafted ingenious arrangements of Chopin, Mendelssohn, and Schumann. And inadvertently, in his Gran Vals he quoted a ubiquitous tune of our modern era: the Nokia ringtone. Or perhaps maybe, all those years ago, he foresaw the cell phone interrupting guitar recitals, and so decided to preemptively get revenge.

—Tom Poore, 2017