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Ignacio Cervantes (1847-1905): Adiós a Cuba

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by 88man, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    “The nostalgic endeavor within music rekindles the memories and hopes that we reverently guard in our hearts. The irony of sadness is that it can be sweet.” -- George V.

    Adiós a Cuba is one of 45 Danzas Cubanas that Ignacio Cervantes wrote for piano. Conceptually, it is more a tone poem than a dance. His music is a hybrid between the European romantic style and the rhythm and songs of his native Cuba. He was also keen on implementing creole elements to Cuban music. In 1895, he was forced into exile from Cuba. During his exile he composed the nostalgic and melancholic Adiós a Cuba.

    The tempo is marked adagio tragico. There may be several editions of this piece, and in my edition the da capo al segno is missing, and so were the E-flat octaves in the bass. I have chosen to play the repeat, add the E-flat octave in the bass. The coda is marked una corda al fine and play it as an echoing sentiment fading into the distance.

    I discovered Adiós a Cuba somewhat serendipitously with the hope of finding music online that avoided the F-natural above middle C, as I was waiting for the F-n agraffe to be fixed on my piano. Sometimes pleasant surprises can happen when you least expect it. I knew I had to learn the piece when I couldn’t get the music out of my head. I recorded it a week ago. If the piece is worthy of submission, I've also enclosed a bio. If the bio is OK, please post it anonymously.

    Thank You... I hope you enjoy listening to the music as much as I enjoyed playing it...

    George V.

    Cervantes - Adiós a Cuba



    Biography:
    Ignacio Cervantes (July 31, 1847 – April 29, 1905) was born in Havana, Cuba. He was a virtuoso pianist and composer. Cervantes was notably influential in the creolization of Cuban music. His music is essentially a hybrid between the European romantic piano style of the composers he admired (i.e. Chopin, Schumann, Beethoven, Weber, Mendelssohn and Liszt), and the rhythms and songs of his native Cuba. He was one of the first composers in the Americas to regard nationalism as the consequence of a people’s distinct character and temperament. He was the precursor to composers who later followed in this trend.

    His first notion for piano was from his father. As a child prodigy, he was taught by pianist Juan Miguel Joval, and by composer and tutor Nicolás Ruiz Espadero in 1859, and later by the visiting American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Gottschalk encouraged Cervantes to study at the Conservatoire de Paris (1866-1870) under Antoine François Marmontel and Charles-Valentin Alkan, where he was awarded first prizes in composition (1866) and harmony (1867). In Paris, he also met Liszt who admired his playing. He also received accolades from Rossini, and Gounod.

    He returned to Havana in 1870 and began his artistic labor. He gave regular piano recitals and concerts, and began to conduct operas. In 1875 Cervantes and the Afro-Cuban violinist José White left Cuba when warned by the Governor-General: he had found out that they had been giving concerts all over the country to raise money for the rebel cause in the Ten Years' War. In the USA and Mexico, Cervantes continued to raise money by giving concerts until the Pact of Zanjón brought a cease in the conflict. He returned in 1879 and took up the baton, and began to take on students, one of whom was Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes, who would become one of the more important Cuban composers of the twentieth century.

    He left again in 1895 when the Cuban War of Independence started, being forced into exile for political activities. During his exile, Cervantes toured the United States extensively (1875-1879), and also began composing his long series of Danzas Cubanas. This exile led to one of his most beautiful piano compositions, the melancholic and nostalgic Adiós a Cuba.

    Throughout his life, Cervantes' musical output remained light as he wrote two operas Maledetto, (1895) and Los saltimbanquis, (1899), various chamber pieces Scherzo cappricioso, (1885), zarzuelas, El Submarino, (1889) and the famous forty-five Danzas Cubanas, (1875-1895). He wrote his one symphony, the Symphony in C, (1879). He also conducted for the Opera company at Havana's Payret Theater. His Fusión de Almas was written to his daughter, María Cervantes (1885-1981), who became a well-known pianist. The later work dates to the period when Cervantes lived in Mexico (1898-1900). Cervantes returned to Cuba in 1900 and died there in 1905.
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Mmm...a hauntingly beautiful piece, George. I loved it (well worth the wait :wink: ). And I can certainly tell that you love it; sounds like you were practically caressing the keys. And what were you thinking about as you were playing it, I wonder? Well, I know the piece ended several minutes ago but yet still lingers in my mind. I would like to hear more of Cervantes' music. Will you record other Dances? And he wrote 45 of them? Wow, that's a lot. Maybe I could play a couple of them too one day. Of course I would not want to record any that you are already planning to do.

    I'm in a bit a rush right now, but I will put this up on the site in the morning - along with your nice Cervantes biography. I wish you would allow me to credit you. Maybe think about it?
     
  3. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok, George, this is up. I'm wondering - what number dance is this Danzas Cubana? I looked online but it seems that the Danzas Cubanas are grouped in various ways, like Six Danzas, or Two Danzas, etc. I wanted to add the number for Adios a Cuba but can't figure it out. Any clue?
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    A charming (if not particularly varied) piece, and an excellent and loving performance. It's clear that you love this piece a lot - that must always shine through in a performance, IMO. Personally I'd have wished for a firmer hand in places, it seems just a little too laid back to me. Which is personal taste of course.

    Anyway, a worthwhile addition. Once again, for great recordings of interesting unknown material, people need to look no further than PS !
     
  5. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you Monica and Chris for the kind praises and I am really glad you love this piece little piece. One issue on this particular take is that it's an imperfectly good recording. Tempo is marked q=54, but I play it q=50 - Perhaps a tad slow, and things just went from there, oh well. I have to leave room for improvement, right? :p

    Monica, I really can't say what I was thinking about other than my reference I quoted in my opening thread. I recorded this take around midnight so the tone and touch were deliberate in order to evoke a sense of quiet mystique and inner reflection. . . .
    I will try to find out the grouping information on his music. I think Adiós a Cuba is in a suite of Six Danzas Cubanas, but I'll have to check back with you to be sure. I'll be ordering an album of his music soon. I hope to learn more pieces. You won't be stepping on my toes if you (or anyone) want to play the same pieces. Besides, I could never keep up with you and Chris since my practicing and recording are only on select weekends. So please, don't wait for me if by chance we end up liking or playing the same pieces... Remember, El Fandango de Candil? :wink:

    Chris, your comments reflect the debate I was having all week: whether to submit this more personalized interpretation or re-record it otherwise? That's why I hesitated and didn't post it for a week. Surely I could have chosen play it with the usual dynamic contrasts, i.e. with macro-dynamics, (with starker 'blacks' and 'whites'). It would've even been easier to play it this way. However, In order to add variation to this thematically simple tone poem, I wanted to see if I could make a convincing recording by introducing subtle dynamic shadings instead, i.e. micro-dynamics, (with evanescent shades of 'gray'). So the lack of a "firmer hand" was intentional in this regard. It's surprising how much of a firm hand is actually needed to control all the notes smoothly in a pianissimo passage and get the subtle crescendos and decrescendos within it. The next time I play it, I am sure it will sound vastly different.
     
  6. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi George,

    This is a lovely piece, a remembrance and yearning of this composer who was in exile. You were most sympathetic to this music in your performance. I very much enjoyed listening.

    David
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi again, George. I forgot to tell you something before, which is that I like how you dropped those low octave notes. I love that - I've a weird thing for bass notes. Also, we all know how much harder it is to play delicately and softly, so by you doing so shows how well you can control the weight in your arms (not easy).
     
  8. wiser_guy

    wiser_guy New Member

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    I got lost in your nostalgic scenes, George - and now I don't want to return :cry:. I love the sea and this piece keeps picturing a beautiful sea view (late afternoon on a ship leaving the shore?) in front of me.
    To be honest, I don't mind the one-sided theme. The composer obviously wanted it to have the same effect as a short but beautiful reminiscence of something gone for good. A reminiscence which keeps coming back again and again indicating how beautiful simple things can be, causing sadness at the same time. Tone poem? I'll go with that.
    Your playing is very well suited to the feel of this piece. Expressive and personal.
     
  9. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, David, Monica, and Pantelis for your comments. I believe pieces like this encourages us to take a 'time out' from our busy lives, and reflect on a past memory. Thanks for sharing your own reminiscences and taking the 'time out' to listen. :)

    David, exile is certainly a powerful influence here. I am glad that you saw that. BTW, any maritime voyages planned over the summer? Let's keep our ears open for those buoys... Wow, do I miss that sound after this long New England winter!

    Monica, actually, it's because of last 6 bass notes that I went to try out the D a few months back. E-flat is my favorite note, followed by C-sharp. What's your favorite bass note?... I think I could hear bass notes all day! Maybe that's why there are 4 subwoofers in my house?!

    Pantelis, your vision of the sea is amazingly evocative. I was actually thinking of attaching a picture of a sunset I had taken over Cape Cod, but thought I'd be overdoing it. Ah, I can't wait to start sailing in Nantucket Sound again! BTW, I hope we both have a good summer for scenic photography! Any plans? My patient offered to give me helicopter lessons - I've always been fascinated with aerial photography. Let's see.
     
  10. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I never thought about if I have a favorite bass note. hmmm.... My kids are still in bed, but once they leave for school I'll go to my piano and play around with all the bass notes. I can already imagine that E-flat and C-sharp would be good ones. But I think D-flat and also D-sharp are good. (haha - dumb joke). Subwoofers - you've got me beat by one. Do you turn up the bass in your car? I do. Oh, I have a subwoofer in the back of my SUV - does that count for the 4th one?
     
  11. rsmullyan

    rsmullyan New Member Piano Society Artist

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    A very interesting lovely piece, and beautifully played!
     
  12. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica, very tempting, but I don't keep subs in cars to avoid thieves as it is. I have a sub for home theater, stereo, music studio, and bedroom. 2 are commercial and 2 I've built. I enjoy designing and making audiophile speakers.

    rsmullyan, thank you for the kind comments!... We've never chatted on PS. However, your surname is very familiar... I am curious, are you the mathematician/philosopher/logician/pianist who has also made a video called "Ramblings?"

    George
     
  13. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, rsmullyan. (PM reply sent)
     
  14. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    George,

    absolutely gorgeous.

    -Kalia
     
  15. Anonymous

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    Wonderful performance. So much passion in this piece. I can see what you mean when you say the piece evokes a time for reflection. Cervantes must have been an introspective guy, as this piece is steeped in pathos :)
     
  16. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Kaila, and Jack, for the kind praises.
     

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