Valenciano: Guitar Works of Asencio, Esplá, & Rodrigo
adj. Of or relating to the region or the city of Valencia, its people, their language, their culture.
n. 1. A native or inhabitant of the region of or the city of Valencia.
2. A person of Valencian ancestry.
3. A collection of works for solo guitar that capture the spirit, intimacy, and character of the 20th century musical composition in the province of Valencia.
It gives me great pleasure to share with you a project that had many stages of exploration, trial & error, revision, and finally the finish line. It is the release date of my new recording Valenciano: guitar works of Asencio, Esplá, & Rodrigo
This endeavor began around the simple observation regarding the Collectici íntim by Vicente Asencio. I noticed that guitarists performing this piece frequently made changes to certain passages without any consistency. This made me ask why? Why did each artist change particular bits of the score? As I studied the work it became apparent that each performer was adjusting the piece to fit their hands and their playing. The published score was edited by Narcisso Yepes (and I’m incredibly thankful that he developed a relationship with Asencio–without this guitarist, there wouldn’t be this body of work created by Asencio…but that’s a topic for a different day). This edition caused me to ask the question: Did Yepe’s change or alter Asencio’s work? Did he make editorial decisions other than suggested fingerings?
The answer is yes.
These questions led me to reconnect with the great guitarist Ignacio Rodes (whom I first met in 1996 at the GFA that was held in St. Louis, Missouri). My teacher, John McClellan, asked me to pickup Ignacio at the airport (you could meet people at the gate back then) and shuttle him around as needed. It was a great opportunity to get to know him and learn about his world. It was a time when people actually had conversations.
Flash forward to the summer of 2008 and I found myself visiting Ignacio’s home in Alicante, and playing for him to see if we would sponsor my application for a Fulbright. He agreed to write a letter of support and over the course of my visit I asked if me might have any information regarding the Valencian composer Vicente Asencio. To my surprise, he not only knew of Asencio, he had a close connection to Matilde Salvador (Asencio’s wife). In addition, he happened to have copies of the manuscripts of the Collectici íntim as well as a wealth of information regarding the composer. Ignacio also had a tremendous understanding of the connection between Asencio and the other composers that were his contemporaries–it was a chance to understand the compositional “scene.”
With much work and support, I was able to move to Spain from 2009-2010 and work with Rodes on this project.
Here are a few takeaways from this experience:
- Asencio’s music is beautiful, intimate, colorful, and expressive.
- It was both exciting and informative to see the manuscripts. It is a process that I hope every musician has the opportunity to experience. To climb in and see what the composer wrote, compare it with the published score and form your own decisions/opinions. There are differences and they are significant!
- The music of Asencio, Esplá, & Rodrigo is challenging to perform both musically & technically.
- Researching a composer’s life can offer new insight into their compositional evolution. It also provides you with a glimpse, if you’re paying attention, into their personality, their struggles, and their achievements. You also begin to see how that may impact the artistic work they produce.
- Sometimes projects take a while to complete. (Visit here & this post, too).
The performances that comprise this recording are informed by my research in Spain working with Ignacio in the province of Valencia, my time writing my final DMA document, Vicente Asencio and his Collectici íntim : in search of a text : the role of creation, collaboration, and textual comparison to create a performer’s edition of Ascencio’s guitar masterwork, and the time I spent thinking about, living with, and performing these pieces.
This project would not have been possible without the guidance of Ignacio Rodes and the support of the Fulbright.
I would also like to thank:
Alex Klein, Christian Biegai, Barry Livingston, Christian Tremblay, Julian Gray, Sharon Levy, Piero Weiss, Benjamin Verdery, & Ronald Pearl.