Roberto Granados, guitar
Élsabeth Jacquet de la Guerre
PIÈCES DE CLAVECIN IN G MINOR (1687)
V. Sarabande arr. Roberto Granados
Pēteris Vasks b. 1946
SONATA OF LONELINESS (1990)
III. Con dolore
STRING QUARTET OP. 74, NO. 3 IN G MINOR, “RIDER” (1793)
II. Largo Arr. John Kossler
IV. Allegro con brio
VARIATIONS ON A THEME BY SCRIABIN (1972)
THE DECAYING EMBERS OF A DIDACTIC STAR (2021)
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
LISABETH JACQUET DE LA GUERRE
Born: March 17, 1665, Paris, France
Died: June 27, 1729, Paris, France
arr. Roberto Granados
Pièces de Clavecin in G minor
Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre was a French baroque composer and harpsichordist born into a wealthy family of masons, musicians and instrument makers — one of the very few well-known female composers of the time, given that female musicians in the 17th century were, for the most part, barred from public performances and other professional opportunities that were reserved for men. Despite the success de la Guerre achieved in her lifetime, her music largely
remains unplayed today.
In my initial experimentation with playing these pieces on guitar, I was immediately struck by how well the music translated from the original manuscript onto the instrument. It’s pretty common to include a work of baroque music on a classical guitar recital (which usually means any one of a number of works by J.S. Bach) — especially when the rest of the program features mostly newer, contemporary works. However, arranging and playing these pieces feels very refreshing and new despite the antiquity of the music itself, and I hope to arrange and perform more of de la Guerre’s harpsichord works in the future as I definitely think they deserve more attention!
Born: April 16, 1946, Aizpute, Latvia
Sonata of Loneliness
Some of the most inspiration for me since beginning my graduate studies at Yale has come from the interactions I’ve had with other members of the guitar studio — connections and friendships formed by conversing and sharing work, ideas and experience with each other. One result of this has been an opening up of my awareness to many lesser-known composers and music for the guitar, of which this piece is a prime example. It was recommended to me by several friends of mine in the studio who thought the piece was well-suited to my playing style and that I might like it — which both turned out to be true!
Pēteris Vasks is a Latvian composer whose music often features a very robust sense of harmony, incorporating elements of Latvian folk music as well as a conceptually environmentalist sense for nature, both in its pristine and degraded state. Sonata of Loneliness features a variety of techniques on the guitar that are simultaneously unconventional in their use (for example, the frequent use of glissandi, or sliding notes, in the first movement) but also very lyrical and expressive in a way that feels natural and idiomatic to the instrument.
Born: October 11, 1957, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
These two short pieces come from an ongoing series of preludes for guitar composed by João Luiz, a two-time Latin Grammy nominee guitarist, educator and composer whose music often draws from the guitar idioms of his native Brazil while bearing a unique musical sense of its own.
The first of these two preludes bears the subtitle of “Xangô,” referring to the powerful god of the same name originating in Yoruba religion, and later interpreted through other syncretic Afrodiasporic religious practices in Latin America. Luiz uses a melodic motif symbolizing Xangô as a thematic element throughout the prelude, first appearing in the melody line at the beginning and later appearing in the bassline to end the piece. The second prelude is a groovy number drawing sonic influence from blues as well as the Northeastern Brazilian musical genre of Baião.
The Decaying Embers of a Didactic Star
Composed by my friend, multi-instrumentalist and composer Randall Krieger, this piece uses a very unusual and unconventional tuning for the guitar that allows for sonorities and harmonies that are not typically accessible on the instrument.
Guitar is tuned primarily on the basis of 12-tone equal temperament (or 12-TET for short), a tuning system where there are 12 different musical pitches or notes to each octave — this tuning system has become the most universal since the 18th century, in classical and Western music in general. In this piece, the guitar is tuned to pitches both from 12-TET as well as pitches outside of this system — pitches that might be considered as existing “in-between” the 12 tones of equal temperament, allowing for a larger variety of very close intervallic relationships between notes that can be played on the instrument. Krieger describes the sounds of the harmonies that can be produced in this tuning as evoking a new or different sense of musical consonance and dissonance.
This is a pretty special and exciting piece for me to present on this program, especially since it’s the very first time I’ve commissioned a work for myself! Randall and I first met while completing our undergraduate degrees at Cal State East Bay, where we were both guitar students of Marc Teicholz. I had always been drawn to the grippingly visceral nature of Randall’s work, his very organic, intuitive sense for interesting approaches to playing and producing sound on instruments, as well as his sense of irony and humor that finds its way into his music, especially through his frequent choice of naming pieces with memorably nonsensical or tongue-in-cheek titles. Randall describes his work as drawing from a wide-ranging variety of influences and disciplines, including “heavy metal, medieval folk rock, contemporary classical music, microtonal music, experimental jazz, noise, progressive, flamenco, fusion, folk music, Celtic music, Indian music, Persian drumming, African drumming, folklore, mythology, charcoal drawings, philosophy, and experimental art forms.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Roberto Granados is a guitarist and composer from Hayward, California. First inspired by the music of Jimi Hendrix, Roberto began studying guitar at the age of six with Hungarian classical guitarist Gyorgy Vass. He has since studied privately with flamenco guitarist-composer Jason McGuire and classical guitarist-composer Sérgio Assad. Roberto holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Music from California State University East Bay, where he studied with Marc Teicholz, and two Masters degrees in Music (M.M., M.M.A.) from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Verdery. Roberto has performed widely in numerous venues in collaboration with various ensembles and artists, including the San Francisco Guitar Quartet, the California Symphony, the Santa Cruz Symphony, Jon Anderson of British progressive rock band Yes, and ukulele soloist Jake Shimabukuro.
Roberto’s ongoing work as a performer, composer and multidisciplinary artist center on a concerted effort to expand the idiom of the guitar as a classical instrument, creating spaces for performance that focus primarily on new music, and music that is underrepresented, underperformed, or even completely unperformed or excluded in the conventional repertoire for the instrument.
Roberto composes music varying from solo and ensemble works to electronics and performance art-inspired pieces, and often experimenting with elements of noise, improvisation, indeterminacy and altered tuning systems. He has premiered and composed new works for guitar and other instruments in collaboration with the Bay Area Composers Group collective, including several concerts at the Center for New Music in San Francisco and an online livestream premiere series. Roberto has contributed a piece for guitar duet and real-time signal processing for the Musaics of the Bay "Stay-at-Home Symposium" series, which pairs new and emerging composers with visual artists to create new works for a virtual premiere. Roberto has also studied and performed extensively as a flamenco guitarist, and has released an album of flamenco music, Soñador (2018). He writes music for a solo instrumental progressive metal project under the alias of The Halcyon Effect, and works in audio production and visual art in his free time.