Concertos surviving COVID 19

​The past two years have been undoubtedly very difficult for artists and musicians around the world. The COVID 19 pandemic brought the concert scene almost to a standstill, but thanks to private donations, government policies, and the relentless optimism of some musicians, the heart of the music is still beating and ready for a strong come back to the stages once coronavirus has been defeated.
 

I am proud and excited to present this collection of concertos to the world, which I have primarily written between 2020 and 2021, commissioned by outstanding artists, soloists, and members of renowned European orchestras. Their determination to combat the stalemate of the pandemic moved them to search for new musical works to challenge their abilities and fuel them with motivation; this led them to commission me the works I present here.​​

With endless gratitude to:

Matthias Rácz, bassoon
Hans Agreda, contrabassoon
Matvey Demin, flute
Ricardo Carvalhoso, tuba
Sergio Sánchez, oboe
Edicson Ruiz, double bass
Lux Nova Duo

Gemini

for bassoon and orchestra (2020)

Concerto

for contrabassoon and orchestra (2021)

Legend of Volcanoes

for flute, bassoon and orchestra (2020)

Danzas Latinas

for bassoon, contrabassoon and orchestra (2019)

Concerto

for oboe and strings (2020)

Shamans

for tuba and orchestra (2020)

Concierto Apiazzollado

for 2 guitars, accordion and strings (2020)

Concerto

for double bass and orchestra  (2017)

Gran Mambo

for two flutes and orchestra  (2022)

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Matthias Rácz was born in Berlin and began his musical education aged six, first on the piano and at ten also on the bassoon. During his school days at the Carl-Philipp-Emanuel-Bach-Gymnasium in Berlin, he was taught by Fritz Finsch. During his studies he was a pupil of Dag Jensen [de] at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover. At the 2000 Internationaler Musikwettbewerb Pacem in Terris [de] in Bayreuth, he was awarded 3rd prize in the overall ranking of all woodwind instruments. In 2002, he won 1st prize at the International Music Competition “Prague Spring.” The same year, he won 2nd prize in the bassoon category at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich. At the age of 15 he made his debut as a soloist with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra in the television production “Junge Künstler auf dem Podium”. Further concerts followed with the Interlochen-World-Youth-Symphony Orchestra (Michigan/USA), the Ensemble Resonanz, the Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock, the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, to name but a few. He has been guest soloist at many music festivals such as the Mozartfest Schwetzingen, the Rheingau Music Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. At 21, he was already principal bassoonist of the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne. Since 2003 he is in the same position in the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly.

Gemini

for bassoon and orchestra (2020)

22min.  - Orch:  2(picc.).2(e.hr.).2.2 – 4.2.2.0. – timp. 3 perc. – harp – strings.

Gemini shows the influence of folk music from Europe and Latin America, but not by accident. The heritage of Matthias’ twins is Hungarian, German Columbian, and Venezuelan, a quartet each! Ivana Alejandra and Lucas Santiago were born on the 9th of July 2011 and are very different in character; she is shy and careful while he is curious and extroverted. This difference in nature builds the core of the composition based on two contrasting melodies, one for each child and other recurring motives such as the family and the stars. The ancestry of the twins serves as the stylistic base for each of the four movements, giving them unique grounds to develop the musical cells inherent to each child. For example, the concerto’s opening represents a glance to the stars looking for the constellation of Gemini, which turns into a dive into the abdomen inhabited by the twins in their fetal state. These analog images convey thoughts and questions about the origins of the universe and life itself. The musical motives of Ivana and Lucas are first exposed in a pure form, framed in a bucolic Hungarian atmosphere. So, the mood is set for a movement infused with Hungarian folk music elements. The early years of the children’s lives are portrait, resulting in a very playful and virtuoso solo bassoon part. Ivana’s and Luca’s themes appear in the opening subtly and continue to accompany each other throughout the concerto, symbolizing the strong bond between the twins. Johannes Brahms compiled many German folk songs in collections for voice and piano or choir. Therefore, it was a natural choice to portrait the tender character of Ivana in the context of German folk music quoting one of the 12 Deutsche Volklieder by Brahms: “Erlaube mir” (Allow me). The song, of simple beauty and calmness, serves as a base to lay a soft texture for the solo bassoon to show flexibility and expressiveness. Cumbia is a musical style which originated from the Columbian folk music but has been adopted in many Latin American because it is fun to listen and easy to dance. The Cumbia provides an infectious rhythm to improvise on, allowing melodic freedom and inviting to create music somewhat funny or satiric, which fit perfectly the character of Lucas, described by his father as “very Latino.” This movement is fresh, funny, and charged with technical challenges for the soloists. The final movement represents the playful interaction between the 9-year-old twins, charged with emotion, competition, and complicity. The playground for the music development in this movement is given by two of the richest and most exciting rhythms found in Venezuelan folk music: the merengue and the joropo. The complex polyrhythmic texture of both the merengue and the joropo provide a strong base for a virtuoso solo part, giving the bassoon a chance to show all its technical and expressive qualities. Gemini is a modern concerto, carefully orchestrated for a large symphony orchestra to allow the bassoon to shine through. The piece’s technical challenges are as strong as the expressive ones, even if it does not use extended techniques on the bassoon. Above all, it is a musical piece that allows the soloists to tell a story and not just any story, one that is as close to his heart as no other.

 
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Hans Agrega was born in Venezuela in 1981. At the age of 14, he took up his musical studies at the Universidad de Los Andes in Mérida, Venezuela. A few years later, he moved to Germany to study at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf in the class of Gustavo Nuñez and graduated from University with the best possible grade. During his studies, he also took private lessons with Klaus Thunemann. At the moment, he is a postgraduate student at the same University, doing his Konzertexamen. In 2004 he won the Schmolz-Bickenbach competition (first prize and the audience award). Furthermore he collaborated with several professional orchestras in Europe, among them the Berliner Philharmoniker, Bayrisches Staatsoper München, Bayerische Symphonieorchester Rundfunk München, WDR (Rundfunk Orchester Köln), SWR (Rundfunk Orchester Stuttgart), Luzern Festival Orchester, Orquesta Mozart, etc. Currently he is playing the contrabassoon in the Tonhalle Orchester in Zurich, Switzerland. He teaches contrabassoon at the ZHdK (Zurich school of art) and the Muho (Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst). His CD Kaleidoskop, Works for Contrabassoon, was nominated for the Opus Klassik award 2020 in Germany. The album, recorded in 2019, includes Efrain Oscher’s Soledad, a version of for contrabassoon, strings, and guitar, which was his first collaboration with the composer. The same year he commissioned from Oscher the Barroqueana Sudamericana Nr. 3

Concerto

for contrabassoon and orchestra (2021)

20min.  - Orch:  2.2(e.hr.).2(bss).1 – 2.0.3.0. – timp. 1 perc. – harp – strings.

The year 2020 has been dominated by the ominous presence of Covid-19. Many people’s lives have been affected and even shattered by the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic. It is not the first time in the history of humankind that such a plague impacts whole countries, or even continents, decimating human populations. The arts’ response to such events has been compelling; many works of art through history reflect the impact of a pandemic in society by capturing the feelings and emotions that the death of thousands of people can cause. Artists and many other people have often turned to religion, seeking answers, refuge, and hope. In Caravaggio’s paintings, biblical stories and characters share the canvas with ordinary people to tell gripping stories. Being Caravaggio an artist who lost all his family to the plague, his work is relevant today and still inspires artists to create profound works that tell captivating stories. The seven works of mercy by Caravaggio is the main inspiration for this contrabassoon concerto. Admiring and analyzing this fantastic painting, one can immerse oneself in the depths of its meaning and find connections between past and present, fantasy and reality, darkness and light. According to the Church, the seven works of mercy are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned and bury the dead. Even though these actions seem strange or irrelevant nowadays, the principle of showing mercy has prevailed through the centuries. We can observe how during the covid-19 pandemic, people have shown mercy to others more affected. The concerto visits the seven works of mercy and translates the story to our modern way, evoking the feelings and emotions of people affected by the pandemic. In the first movement, today’s common emotions such as feeling imprisoned or sick while in lockdown or even suffering the effects of social distancing are portrayed with nervous motives and dark textures symbolizing the mental health issues casting their shadows on so many people. The feelings of emptiness and loneliness are captured in the second movement with the lyric sound of the contrabassoon in the high register, expressive, haunting, with the power of evoking these emotions. The third movement is a Requiem for the people who have succumbed to the virus during this year. But not all is darkness and sadness, the actions of people who intend to help others are the light in this musical canvas, and they are represented by higher and lighter orchestral textures in the flutes and violins throughout the concerto. The final movement is an allegory to mercy and a celebration of gratitude to all the front-line workers who risk their safety to help others and the individual people and institutions that made great efforts to help those who need it in these difficult times.

 
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Matvey Demin belongs to the most promising artists of his generation. Born in Siberia, Russia, in 1993, Matvey started to study flute with his grandmother, continuing his education in Hannover and Munich with Prof. Andrea Lieberknecht. Matvey is the first in history who won the 1st prize in the woodwinds category of the world-famous Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and St. Petersburg. He is also a prize winner of such competitions as the international «Aeolus» competition, ARD International Music Competition (Munich), international flute competition in Krakow, Unisa International music competition, and many others. Since the age of 20, Matvey holds the position of Co-Principal Solo flute in the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, where he works under the baton of Paavo Järvi, David Zinman, Bernhard Haitink, and many other conductors. In addition, Matvey has appeared as a soloist with Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, Mariinsky Orchestra, Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra, and many others. He also performed in Japan with PMF Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Valery Gergiev in July and August 2019. Matvey is active in the chamber music scene, performing at the following festivals: Davos Festival (Switzerland), Emilia Romagna Festival (Italy), Samos Young Artists Festival (Greece), International Molyvos Festival (Greece), Povoa de Varzim Festival International de Musica (Portugal) and International Flute festival «Flute Virtuosi» in Sankt-Petersburg at Mariinsky Theatre.

Legend of Volcanoes

for flute, bassoon and orchestra (2020)

23’ - Orchestration:  2(picc.).2.2.2 – 4.2.3.1. – timp. 3 perc. – strings.

Aztecs - Tlaxcaltecas - Iztaccíhuatl - Popocatépetl - Promise of love - Battle of Oaxaca - Intrigue and Death - Eternal Flame The concerto is a musical narration of the legend of Mexican Volcanos Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl. The orchestral introduction, strongly dominated by brass and percussion, describes the Aztecs, powerful and imposing, who conquered neighboring tribes, collecting taxes. The following section presents the soloists together with the string section describing the Tlaxcaltecas. They were one of the few folks which the Aztecs could not subdue and reached significant cultural and artistic development. After presenting these opposing pre-Columbus civilizations, the flute takes over the voice of the beautiful princess Iztaccíhuatl and the bassoon, the one of the brave warrior Popocatépetl, both Tlaxaltecas. Other wind instruments interact with the soloists incarnating King Tezozomoctli and y Tzompetlácatl, rival of Popocatépetl for the love of Iztaccíhuatl. Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl fall deeply in love, and before going to war, the warrior asked the King for the hand of her daughter. The father promises Popocatépetl that when he returns victorious from the war, he will marry Iztaccíhuatl with a great celebration. Popocatépetl leads the army to the Battle of Oaxaca, which is depicted in a mighty orchestral tutti. The unscrupulous Tzompetlácatl wants to gain the favors of Iztaccíhuatl. Taking advantage of the prolonged absence and the lack of news from Popocatépetl, he assures her that his beloved has fallen dead in battle. Iztaccíhuatl, gripped by pain, accepts to marry Tzompetlácatl. “Intrigue and death” describes this story’s tragic outcome: Iztaccíhuatl takes her own life when she finds out the Popocatépetl is alive and coming back home because she failed to her promise of love. Popocatépetl fights Tzompetlácatl and mortally wounds him. Eternal Flame is the magical coda that completes this great legend. Seeing Iztaccíhuatl dead, the bleak warrior kneels before her and cries from the bottom of his soul. He covered her with flowers and burned the copal. The Gods who witnessed the ordeal sympathized with the lovers, made the heavens thunder, and covered them with branches and snow turning them into volcanos. Since then, Popocatépetl watches over the eternal dream of her beloved Iztaccíhuatl and still spurts fire, smoke, and ashes to tell the world he still loves her.

 
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Matthias Rácz & Hans Agreda
Danzas Latinas

for bassoon, contrabassoon and orchestra (2019)

Duration: 20’00  - Orchestration:  piano - 1 perc. – strings.

Dances in Latin America are generally associated with happiness, joy, and revelry as well as party. The tile of this piece evokes instinctively scenes of couples dancing salsa or merengue, but dances are an artistic conduit to express a large variety of feelings and emotions. Especially in Latin America, dances are present in every level of society. They are linked to their religious, political, romantic, and intellectual aspects, all due to the deep miscegenation in the continent. Danzas Latinas for bassoon, contrabassoon and orchestra was written especially for Matthias Racz and Hans Agreda, members of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. Six Latin dances are at the core of the piece, which makes use of the technical and expressive qualities of the instruments to create an exciting impression of the emotions involved in the dancing culture of Latin America. The first movement, Chachazon, toggles between two dances: cha-cha-cha and danzón. Of Cuban origin, the cha-cha-cha is widely known worldwide as part of the standard show dances and is often used by Latin Jazz ensembles. The danzón also originated in Cuba but found an avid audience in Mexico for many years, where large groups in town squares usually dance it. The bassoons sometimes assume the role of the singer, with their enchanting tenor and baritone qualities, but sometimes play virtuoso passages as saxophones do in Latin jazz bands. The Bolero is a slow dance which is danced by couples very close to each other. It is primarily melancholic, and the lyrics talk about love, betrayal, and disillusion. The second movement is a heartfelt Bolero that evokes feelings of longing and desperation, which are brilliantly captured by the expressive sound of the bassoons. The third movement is a bassoon and contrabassoon duo, which takes us to the coast of Venezuela, where the African-Venezuelan culture still thrives. The soloists begin with a singing call and then imitate the culo’e puya, a set of three thin drums which produce an intricate polyrhythm that induces dancers into a trance. There are two different types of Merengue in Latin America, the Dominican Merengue, which is heard and danced around the world, and the Venezuelan, which went out of fashion as dance a century ago. The fourth movement opens with a Venezuelan merengue, which uses a 5/8 time signature. Despite its irregular pace, this merengue has a very danceable groove. The concerto finishes with a frantic Dominican Merengue where the bassoons play virtuoso passages along the whole range of the instrument, assuming the saxophones’ role in this style of music, fireworks of virtuosity to celebrate the rhythm and “sabor” of the Latin American dances.

 
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Sergio Sanchez was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and began his musical training in the youth-orchestra organization “El Sistema” with the oboe. In 2010 he continued his studies with Professor Diethelm Jonas in the Musikhochschule Lübeck, obtaining his Master’s degree in 2016. Between 2013 and 2014, he was an Erasmus exchange student in the Paris Conservatory, where he studied with Jacques Tys and David Walter. While in Paris, he attended masterclasses of baroque oboe with Prof. Rafael Palacios. In 2017 he began his studies in the Mozarteum of Salzburg with Prof. Alfredo Bernardini and took leave in 2019 to do his trial year in the Augsburg Philharmonic. 2015 he won the Ferdinand Gillet International Oboe Competition from the International Double Reed Society in Tokyo. In addition, he obtained a special award in the Barbirolli Oboe Competition in 2014 (Isle of Man) and the ARD Music Competition in 2017 (München). Furthermore, Sergio Sanchez has extensive orchestral experience in Europe as a guest oboist with the DSO Berlin, Radio France Philharmonic, and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, to mention a few. In 2020 he resumed his studies of baroque oboe at the Mozarteum while holding his position as first oboist of the Augsburg Philharmonic. He has been a regular guest with the ensemble Bolivar Soloists, which was founded by Efrain Oscher, featuring in their CD “Caramba.”

Concerto

for oboe and strings (2020)

Duration: 20min. - Orchestration:  Strings.

This concerto resulted from several years of musical collaboration and friendship between Venezuelan oboist Sergio Sanchez and composer Efrain Oscher. It is a musical tribute to Venezuela and its music inspired by a collection of childhood memories and others Efrain acquired through many years of performing Venezuelan traditional music worldwide. Efrain was part of a nationwide movement of ensembles dedicated to the preservation of Venezuelan traditional music, led by musicians trained in the children-and-youth-orchestras organization, “El Sistema.” Many orchestra musicians have assumed the soloist role in front of ensembles traditionally composed of cuatro (a four-string guitar), bass, mandolin, or guitar, adding their classical background and instrumental technique to the mix elevating the folkloristic expressions. In addition, ensembles often arrange traditional pieces and compose new ones themselves. Efrain gave his first composing steps in such an ensemble and still draws inspiration from this experience, which can be appreciated in this concerto for oboe and strings. The first movement, Allegro Caraqueño, is based on the Venezuelan merengue, which uses a 5/8 time signature that differentiates it from the Dominican merengue. This movement evokes a Caracas in its prime, modern, chaotic, perhaps violent but buzzing with culture and life. The music is reminiscent of a Caracas where young Efrain grew up, and it is infused with a certain melancholy, which is perfectly captured by the sound of the oboe. The movement presents a rhythmical, almost violent theme representing the chaos of the city’s traffic and a melancholic one that symbolizes those things from childhood that are lost forever. The plains of Venezuela are inhabited mainly by farmers scattered through vast extensions of land. The tonada is a musical style with its origins in milking songs and was popularized by one of the most emblematic Venezuelan singer-songwriters, Simon Diaz. These songs capture the solitude of the farmers, the darkness of the plains before dawn, the smell of grass glistening with dew, the sounds of birds and crickets. In the second movement, andante tonada, the tender and enigmatic sound of the English horn is responsible for depicting those bucolic pictures and evokes the sensation of being alone with nature before the sun comes up. In the eastern side of Venezuela is still possible to witness the dance of the Gaita de Tambora, a wonderful display of two groups of dancers chasing each other waving flags to the sound of drums and song. The third movement is a fantasy that combines rhythmical and melodic elements of the Gaita de Tambora to create a texture on the strings that reminds us of the drums. At the same time, the oboist displays virtuosity and expressiveness in passages imbued with a jazz influence. The occasional “chasing” between oboe and strings gives this movement a festive, happy character. It pays tribute to those beautiful folkloristic expressions of a culture that have lasted centuries, bringing joy to so many generations.

 
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Ricardo Carvalhoso was born in 1986 in Arcos de Valdevez, North of Portugal. He received his musical education at the Viana do Castelo Professional School of Music, the Porto College of Music and Performing Arts, and later at the Zurich University of the Arts, where he graduated with a Master of Arts in music performance and a Soloist Diploma. Among his teachers were Anne Jelle Visser, Sérgio Carolino, Eduardo Nogueroles, Chris Lee and Juan Carlos Diaz. Between 2009 and 2011, he was awarded a series of international prizes, including the Young Musicians Award in Portugal, the “Aosta Valley” Brass Competition in Italy, the Tuba Competition “Ville d’Avray” in France, and the Music Prize of the Kiefer Hablitzel Foundation in Switzerland. Still, during his studies, he was a member of the Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra, and the Academy of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. In early 2012 in France, his professional career took off when he became Solo-Tuba of the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra. Later in 2015, he received his second orchestral engagement with the Philharmonia Zurich, and since 2017 he is the Principal Tuba of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, Ricardo Carvalhoso is a much sought-after soloist and educator.

Shamans

for tuba and orchestra (2020)

15’00 - Orch: 2(picc.).2(e.hr.).2(bcl).2 – 3.0.0.0. – timp. 1 perc. – harp – strings.

A shaman is a witch or a sorcerer, a person with supernatural powers who can cure illnesses, predict the future, and above all, has a strong connection with nature. In many Pre-Hispanic cultures of Latin America, shamans played a vital role, and even nowadays, they are part of society and offer their services to believers. This concerto depicts the magical endeavors of shamans from Mayan (Mexico), Inca (Peru), and Yanomami (Venezuela/Brazil) tribes. Maya, the first movement, opens with a musical depiction of foul winds, said to cause illness. The shaman says then prayer before entering a cave through which he will descend to Xibalbá (the Mayan underworld). Once he arrives, he must face Cizin, also known as Yum Cimil, Mayan god of death, represented in ancient Mayan pottery and other art as a putrid corpse, bald with skeletal face emanating fetid gases. Defeating Cizin will allow the shaman to cure the ill, so he returns to the world of the living with the healing power to help his patient. In the Andes, the shamans use coca leaves for many things, not only as medicine but also to read their patients’ afflictions, past, and future. The second movement’s opening depicts the reading of the coca leaves followed by the invocation to the Apu, a God living within the mountains, which communicates with the shaman through thunder. The Apu has the faculty to possess animals to aid humans, so it appears in the shape of a condor during the patient’s dream. The third movement opens with a scene in the Amazon forest, home of the Yanomami tribe, where we can hear birds calling and the roar of the jaguar. The shaman proceeds then to diagnose the patient; he then inhales the Yopo (Hallucinogen substance) and invokes the spirits to help him locate the pathogenic agent causing the illness. The spirits are tiny entities dressed as animals that help the shaman in his healing work depicted in the middle section. Once the pathogenic agent is found in its spiritual form, the shaman ingests it and vomits it in physical form such as dirt, and the patient is cured. Finally, the tribe celebrates with dances the recovery of the patient.

 
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Award-winning group Lux Nova Duo, founded in 2012 in Barcelona, is formed by Peruvian guitarist Jorge Paz Verastegui and German accordionist Lydia Schmidl. They bring fresh light to the contemporary music world with their unusual combination of timbres. Exploring the interesting artistic, cultural differences of their countries of origin, they create together exciting concert programs and experimental sounds: from shining Baroque music to South American rhythms. Because of their strong commitment to contemporary music performance, composers from around the world have dedicated their compositions to Lux Nova Duo, such as Jose Maria Sanchez Verdú, Leo Brouwer, Mario M. Mary, Alejandro Nunez Allauca, and Charles Uzor. Lux Nova Duo has performed in some of the most important halls in Europe such as the Elbphilharmonie, Die Glocke Bremen, Laeiszhalle, the Resonanz Raum Hamburg, the Auditorium Enrique Granados in Lleida (Spain) and the ZKM Karlsruhe, and in Festivals such as Klub Katarakt – Kampnagel, the Brandenburgische Sommerkonzerte Festival, the Josep Soler Barcelona Festival and the Forum Neue Musik Hamburg. Their first CD, Intuiciones, featuring Spanish and Latinoamerican music, was awarded the First Prize in the University of the Arts competition in Bremen. The following year they recorded the CD Hamburg Dialogues (Hamburg composers in focus) with Costa Records, and in 2020 the record label Genuine released their CD Inspiración Bach.

Concierto Apiazzollado

for 2 guitars, accordion and strings (2020)

Duration: 20’ - Orchestration:  Strings.

In 2021 we celebrate the 100th birthday of argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, one of the most notorious Latin American musicians of all time. He studied composition in Paris with Nadja Boulanger, who urged him to focus his musical career on the tango, the music he grew up with and later revolutionized. His music transcended the barriers between classical and popular music and is played alike by musicians of both styles. Concierto Apiazzollado is a tribute to this man, who gave the national music of his country a makeover and achieved international recognition for it. The concerto is written in three movements, using the three tango styles typically played on a tango ball: tango, vals, and milonga. The first movement is based on Piazzolla’s tango style, which he developed in the 1960s due to the conservative tradition of tango, which ruled Argentina for many years. Symbolically, this movement represents Piazzolla’s frustration and discontent with the country’s political situation, which resulted in a dictatorship that asphyxiated the freedom of expression and the arts, forcing him to flee the country by the end of the 1960s. He took then residence in Italy, where he wrote film music, published and recorded much of his music. The first movement features a citation from Efrain Oscher’s duo for Double Bass and Viola, Escenas del Sur, commissioned in 2009 by Edicson Ruiz. This piece is inspired by real-life events which happened during the 1970s dictatorship in Uruguay. The section cited in Concierto Apiazzollado is “luz en las tinieblas” (light in the darkness) which depicts the solitude and pain of all those incarcerated and tortured by the military during the regime. The harmonics on the guitar and strings symbolize those innocents who died in prison for simply wanting a better future in democracy. The second movement uses the slow waltz to evoke the tradition of Italian bel-canto and thus create an atmosphere of melancholy, which represents the void and sadness of an Astor Piazzolla who exiled himself from his country. Finally, the milonga is a style very closely linked to the tango, which shows a clear African influence and is used in the third movement to celebrate the return of the maestro. The movement toggles between traditional motives which reference the milonga campera (milonga from the countryside) and others inspired by Piazzolla’s innovative style. The intention is to create a sense of elation that hints at the restlessness and concern that might have felt the artist who returned to a country that suffered terribly at a dictator’s hands.

 
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Born in Caracas in 1985, Edicson Ruiz decided to play the bass when he was just eleven years old. His first teacher and mentor, Felix Petit, guided him through his studies in “El Sistema,” the Venezuelan national youth orchestra foundation founded by José Antonio Abreu. In 2001 became the youngest member of the history of the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic, where he studied with Prof. Klaus Stoll. After one Month, Edicson Ruiz won a job at the Berlin Philharmonic for a whole life term. Edicson Ruiz is one of the most successful bass soloists of the present time, and his virtuosity impresses audiences the world over. He has performed as a soloist in major metropolises such as New York (Lincoln Center), Berlin (Philharmonie), Vienna (MuTh Saal), Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Theater), and Paris (Le Cite de la Musique), to mention just a few. He has premiered numerous works written for him by composers such as Heinz Holliger, Luciano Maria Serra, Rudolf Kelterborn, Georg Friedrich Haas, Paul Desenne, Efrain Oscher, Dai Fujikura, Toshio Hosokawa and Roland Moser. Edicson Ruiz has recorded numerous CDs with Phil.Harmonie, which emphasizes his passion for the music of the 18th century and modern and contemporary music. He was granted the “José Felix Ribas Prize” in 2002 for his service to art and culture by the Venezuelan Government as well as being the recipient of “The Golden Bow Prize” 2012 by the Brienz Violinmaker School in Brienz, Switzerland.

Concerto

for double bass and orchestra  (2017)

29’00  - Orch.:  2(picc.).2(e.hr.).2.2 – 4.2.3.0. – timp. 2 perc. – h.chord – strings.

Efrain Oscher’s double bass concerto is a musical portrait of Edicson Ruiz and a celebration of the long-lasting friendship between the composer and the performer. Oscher works with Ruiz since 2005 and has composed several works for double bass in combination with other instruments and ensembles. The double bass concerto results from the long process of developing a language for Edicson’s double bass voice, a language through which he can express all his passion as a soloist. Ruiz chose for this concerto the Viennese tuning in which all classical double bass concertos were written between 1760 and 1820. Oscher follows the nationalistic tradition of many Latin American composers such as Ginastera, Piazzolla, Esteves, Márquez and Villa-Lobos. He uses South American traditional and folkloristic material to create works presented within western classical forms and formats. For example, in his double bass concerto, there are references to several styles of music typically played in Venezuela and Uruguay, home countries of the composer and the soloist. The first movement, Allegro, begins the Tempo mark Guarachoso ma non troppo giving a hint to the source of the melodic and rhythmic material: the Guaracha, a Caribbean sibling of the Salsa and the Cumbia, which is very popular in Venezuela. The second, Andante, is based on “Soledad,” a piece originally written for a theater play called Monster 2011. It portraits how solitude can lead to frustrations and even violence. The work begins with a rather baroque theme followed by variations leading to a tango-frenzy, a tribute to Astor Piazzolla. The cadenza, which opens the third movement, is based on a Cuban style of music called Guaguanco. It is an intricate polyrhythmic construction that gives us the impression that there is more than one instrument playing. The orchestra joins the soloists in this joyful rhythm which eventually turns into an Afro Venezuelan style called San Millán, typically played by three drums where the lowest plays the same pattern as the Guaguanco. There is a strong bond between Flamenco and Joropo, the most popular Venezuelan folkloric music style. In the third movement, both musical styles serve as a platform for the soloist to show virtuosity and passion. All Latin American musical styles used in this work have a personal connection to both the soloists and the composer. In this way, Ruiz is given a story to tell and a familiar language to communicate it. Emotion cannot be out of the equation in a Latin American concerto. That is why the thread that brings this collage of styles together is the main tune of “Soledad,” a meaningful name for Ruiz since it is the name of his mother and grandmother.