Leo/Gemini/Libra/Concerto for 8
Roberto Gerhard was born in 1896 in Valls, Catalonia as the son of a Swiss father and an Alsatian mother, and received his education in nearby Barcelona. He received piano instruction from Enrique Granados and also studied with the composer and ethno-musicologist Felipe Pedrell, who awakened his interest in Catalan folk music. In 1924 Roberto Gerhard became the first (and only) Spanish pupil of Arnold Schönberg. He studied with him for four years, then returned to Barcelona where he committed himself fully to the New Music. Gerhard, who was known as a supporter of the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, left Spain before Barcelona fell into the hands of the Nationalists. After a brief sojourn in Paris, he settled in Cambridge with a research stipend. Gerhard's production during the 1940s was characterized by explicit treatment of Spanish, and especially Catalan, culture. After his death in 1970 in Cambridge, his music at first went into an eclipse. On the occasion of his 100th birthday, however, a series of new recordings and publications appeared, marking a renewal of interest in Roberto Gerhard's music. The Collegium Novum Zürich recorded four of his works for this CD, conducted by Peter Hirsch. The three zodiac pieces are fruits of the composer's final years. Whereas Leo and Libra are related through a certain kinship in their substances, Gemini asserts a rather solitary status in scoring and structure. This Duo Concertante was composed in 1966. In its sonic gestures, it appears predominantly rough, wild, and rutted with tensions. The composer commented on his "Concerto for 8," premiered in 1962 at a concert of the BBC, as follows: "My intention was to write a piece of chamber music in the style of a divertimento, almost in the spirit of the commedia dell'arte. The eight instruments could represent something like dramatis personae, but what they play are purely musical events not at all intended to conjure up any extra-musical ideas or illustrate anything. Two characteristics of the commedia have been adapted: zest for the spontaneous idea, improvisation and for disguises and putting on masks -- with which I mean that the instruments are played in unconventional ways. The piece consists of eight parts following each other in uninterrupted succession." Collegium Novum Zürich; Peter Hirsch, conductor; Rahel Cunz, violin; Christoph Keller, piano.