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Homenaje: Tombeau pour Claude Debussy
Composer: de Falla, Manuel
Performer(s): Clive Titmuss, Antique Classical Guitar

Length: 3:09

Formats: MP3 (128kbps)
               WAV (uncompressed)

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It is difficult to imagine a musician being better suited to producing a substantial repertoire for the guitar, but one, who paradoxically did not do so, than Manuel de Falla. His best know works, the ballets El Sombrero de Tres Picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), La Vida Breve (The Short Life) and El Amor Brujo (Love, the Sorcerer) frequently rely on folkloric material, and are full of orchestrations which suggest the strumming accompaniments and the quartal harmonies of the guitar. In addition, he frequently paid hommage to the classic past of plucked instruments in the neo-classical atmosphere of his Harpsichord Concerto and in his songs, where echoes of the vihuelistas, Milan, Fuenllana, and Mudarra are often heard. His attraction to certain of their musical devices - cross relations, unusual metric usage and modal harmony - always colour his writing. Despite his silence, having produced only this famous and frequently played guitar work, many of his smaller pieces are often rendered on the guitar. This piece, dating from 1926, is probably one of the greatest guitar compositions of the 20th century. It was clearly written with a guitarist's viewpoint. Using open-string quartal chords, a typical mixture of duplets, triplets and quintuplets within the metrical and formal framework of a Pavane, it recalls the Tombeaux of the 17th c. Given Falla's intimacy with Paris in the 1920's, where he established his reputation, it seems likely to have been inspired by Ravel's Pavane pour une Infante Défunte (recorded here). In the centre section, an ostinato sustained on the middle open strings continues the suspended harmony, resolved in a stroke of harmonic brilliance with a brief excursion into A-flat. This atmosphere would have been the common to the cante jondo, the melancholy wailing of the songs in the zarzuelas (folk operas) he heard as a youth.

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