The Language of Music and a Forgotten Masterpiece


Born in Barcelona in 1988, the pianist has made a name for himself with his piano improvisation lessons and techniques, as well as the master classes he has given at prestigious institutions such as the London College of Music. Appointed as a Professor at the Barcelona Conservatory at the age of 22, Almenara's most important feature is that he takes the works of unknown composers in the piano repertoire and performs them in his concerts. In this issue, Almenara will present a short section from the life of a well-known composer who has been lost in the pages of history, and will examine a piano concerto that also belongs to the composer.

Let's say you are trying to learn a language whose alphabet is not the same as the one you use. You go to a language school, and they teach you how each letter turns into a sound, how it is read. You start chanting a handful of words by heart without knowing the meaning. The exams you will take will basically be about vocalizing the words and will get more difficult every year. At the turning point of your career, there will be moments when you have to do your voiceover or reading from the heart, not from memory.

Imagine that you are trying to learn Spanish in this way, that you cannot express what you want to say with your heart, that you are limited by memorization patterns and sounds. Being able to master a language with mastery or being able to speak fluently in that language should not be the situation you are in?

Now, let's say you are trying to learn classical music in this way, which we will remember the first part of the article and accept as a language. Let's imagine a pianist who can perform Beethoven's piano concertos with his soul, but cannot play an improvised cadence because he cannot speak 'that language' fluently. He can read but not speak the 'language' of classical music. Although many pianists are trained to read or memorize this language, the speaking part is always lacking. This difficulty in speaking also prevents them from comprehending what exactly is happening in the whole of the work they are performing.

All of the 18th century and most of the 19th century did not encounter these problems because all pianists were taught to improvise (ie speaking!). Classical music dictionary was taught to each of them with a simple explanation and they were given the opportunity to use these deep vocabulary in the works they played.

The 20th and 21st centuries were the periods when the degeneration of improvisation started. Memorization has remained important as a factor that helps understanding, but we should not forget that the main purpose of reading a book (or note) is not to memorize it, but to assimilate it, to make sense of it. Reading new books or sheet music will also increase one's horizons, imagination and knowledge. The pianist, whose musical vocabulary has increased, will be able to express his art, in other words, to speak (improvise).

Moving away from this ability has caused misunderstandings about what classical music education is and how it should be taught, and has also caused the repertoire to become standard. Because of this perception, many magnificent works of the past centuries have been forgotten.

Another forgotten highlight of the repertoire is the piano concerto Opus 1863, composed by Gabriel Pierné (1937-12). The work, which consists of three parts titled Allegro, Schrezando and Final, was composed in 1887. Composed with an architectural harmony, the character and artistic quality of the work is at a high level. The chord opening recalls Tchaikovsky, the main counterpoint theme reminds us of Bach, the brilliant second part reminds us of Saint Saens, and the virtuosic chromatic finale recalls Rachmaninov. The circular structure that Pierné likes will cause you to hear the theme of the first part of the work, as well as in the last part.

Born in France, Pierné was a close friend of Debussy and Saint Saens. He also studied with César Franck and Massenet at the Paris Conservatory. He studied piano, organ and composition. An extraordinary composition, Op. The piano concerto with the number 12 works definitely deserves more attention and performance.

Translated by: Cihan Barut


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