Miguel Llobet | Guitar Music

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Miguel Llobet (1878-1938)
Guitar Music [Complete]
CD NAXOS 8.557351 (2004)
Lorenzo Micheli

Info

Recorded at the Aula Magna of the Seminario Arcivescovile, Ivrea (Turin), Italy, on 24th April & 24th October 2002
Recording director & sound engineer: Renato Campajola
Digital editing: Mario Bertodo
Liner Notes: Ron Purcell

Tracklist

Scherzo – Vals (1909)

Estudio Capricho (1899)

Mazurka (1901)

13 Catalan Folksongs (1899 – 1920)
L’hereu riera
El testament d’Amelia
La nit de Nadal (El Desembre congelat)
El mestre
La presó de Lleida
La pastoreta
La filla del marxant
Lo rossinyol
Plany
El noi de la mare
La filadora
Lo fill del rey
Cançó del lladre

Respuesta (Impromptu) (1922)

5 Preludes
Preludio (a Rosita Lloret) (1935)
Preludio en mi mayor (1935)
Preludio en re mayor (a Maria Luisa Anido) (1916)
Preludio en la mayor (1935)
Prelude – Original (1912)

Mazurka por Federico Bufaletti (s.d.)

4 Folksongs (ca. 1910)
Estilo popular argentino (en mi menor)
Estilo popular argentino (en re mayor)
Estilo popular argentino (en fa# menor)
Leonesa

Estudio en mi mayor (1899)

Romanza (1896)

Variaciones sobre un tema de Sor (1908)
Tema
Var. I (Sor)
Var. II (Sor)
Var. III
Var. IV
Var. V
Var. VI
Intermezzo. Andante molto espressivo
Var. VII
Var. VIII. Toda esta variación en sonidos harmonicos
Var. IX. Toda esta variación con la mano izquierda sola
Var. X

Liner Notes
MIGUEL LLOBET
Student of Tarréga & Maestro to Segovia
The opening of the 20th century ushered in a new era for the classic guitar. With a new face-lift and some structural changes, as well as the performances and compositions of Francisco Tárrega, the guitar was launched and firmly established on a course that has seen it develop into one of the most widespread string instruments today. Two guitarists, Miguel Llobet and Andrés Segovia (1893-1987), are largely responsible for this increased popularity. Segovia did not study with Tárrega; however, he admits to an indirect influence through Llobet. Llobet took the necessary steps to continue what Tárrega had started: create new music, make transcriptions of contemporary composers, develop and expand pedagogical practices for the guitar. Tárrega never toured outside Western Europe. Whereas, Llobet moved into the life of an international concert artist at the opening of the 20th century by traveling to venues on other continents.
Miguel Llobet Soles was born October 18, 1878 and died February 22, 1938 in Barcelona, Spain. In 1889 he began studying the instrument with Magín Alegre who in that same year took him to hear the blind Spanish virtuoso of the guitar Antonio Jimenez Manjón (1866-1919). It was after this concert that Llobet decided upon the guitar as his life’s ambition; he stated that Manjón had left an indelible impression upon him. At the age of 16 Llobet attended the Municipal Conservatory of Music where he continued his studies with Tárrega. Some of the students and friends at this music institute were Pablo Casals, Emilio Pujol, Ricardo Viñes, Gaspar Cassadó and other Catalonian notables. Llobet’s first public appearance occurred in 1901 at the Conservatory of Valencia. In 1904 his friend and compatriot, Ricardo Viñes, the noted pianist and interpreter of Debussy keyboard works, presented him in his first concert outside Spain, in Paris. While residing in Paris from 1905 to 1910, Llobet gave concerts throughout continental Europe and the British Isles. His first concert in South America occurred in 1910. In Buenos Aires Llobet made a temporary home, periodically leaving on concert junkets that took him north through Brazil and into Central America and the Caribbean. By 1912 his tour had brought him to the United States. At the outbreak of World War I, Llobet returned to Buenos Aires, where he gave concerts and taught some students. The concerts given during the war years continued to reach as far north as the USA. After 1930, Llobet settled in Barcelona to teach and give occasional concerts. In 1934, he offered concerts in Vienna, Germany and other parts of Western Europe. By 1937, he was back in Barcelona during one of the most difficult sieges upon his hometown at the time of the Spanish Civil War. Jaime Pahissa (in his book, Manuel de Falla) says that when he saw Llobet at this time, “he was wandering through the streets of Barcelona and he seemed absolutely crushed, overwhelmed by circumstances and completely apathetic.” Soon after, his health began to fail, whereupon he contracted pleurisy and died the following year.
Llobet’s publications number approximately 75. Of this number, there are 13 known original compositions and a group of folksong settings. All others are either arrangements of noted composers for either solo or two guitars or revised editions of the repertoire, some originally edited by Tárrega.
The earlier original works demonstrate a prejudice towards Chopin, as can be heard in the “Mazurka”, “Romanza”and “Scherzo-Vals”, where even the unusual (for the guitar) choice of the keys is somehow “chopinian”: B flat major and C minor for the Mazurka and the Romanza, whereas the Scherzo-Vals has a central section in D flat major.
Wagner and Richard Strauss also left their mark on him as heard in the Preludes in E and A, each breathing chromatic freedom (Jaime Pahissa mentions that Llobet was a traveling companion of not only Falla but also Strauss and that while traveling much of the conversations focused on various modern composers: Wagner, Bizet and Debussy were major topics).
Yet, he is attuned to the Impressionists and this is heard in his harmonizations of the Catalonian folk songs. While attending the Municipal Conservatory of Music in Barcelona, Llobet fell under the influence of Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922), distinguished composer and musicologist (among Pedrell’s pupils were Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albeniz, Enrique Granados and Roberto Gerhard). Pedrell wrote and lectured on the preservation and use of Spain’s National Treasury – the folk song. The arrangements by Llobet of the Catalan folksongs are his contribution to the plea made by Pedrell, each an impressionistic jewel displaying a fantastic richness in harmony and tone. Some of these ballads from Catalonia became favorites in Europe through his performances.
With “Respuesta,” Llobet almost exceeds the technical limits of the guitar using a special effect, bariolage, where the right hand arpeggiates across lower strings that are sounding higher then the open strings. This work really pushes the boundary line on idiomatic writing for the instrument.
A favorite for centuries among European composers, the ancient theme of the “folia” inspired a number of works, including Fernando Sor’s Variations op. 15. Borrowing from op. 15 the theme and the first two variations, Llobet adds 8 more variations and a romantic “Intermezzo” that display an ingenuousness in modern harmonic technique with devices exploiting several technical aspects of the guitar, including left-hand only variation, harmonics and quick slurs.
To Miguel Llobet is given the credit for bringing the classic guitar into the modern musical world of international concert tours; for contributing new works to the repertoire; for presenting to the public in performance the new works of such composers as de Falla, Villa Lobos, Ponce and others; for teaching, organizing and expanding the pedagogical principles of Tárrega; and, of utmost importance, for having made the first electric recordings of the classic guitar.

Ronald Purcell
Sherman Oaks, June 2003