I am not for throwing Babies out with the post-modern bath-waters … where anything is OK – and Jerry Springer must be the great American Social Revolutionary of our times – he is of course more intelligent than his hopelessly ridiculous punters and foolish successors, like the British invented Big Brother air-heads.
Cultural values accumulated over long periods of time must be preserved by all means – like learning Music by-heart (a wonderful folk-expression this), then to play it by-mind for an audience. Music that is not memorized by arduous rehearsals over a period of time cannot be re-invented (not to say re-produced) intelligently, let alone with a profound creative instinct that is the life-blood of good and great music-performance.
Concert Music must be played by heart and mind – never the latter without the former. A concert is not, cannot, and must never be a score-reading rehearsal; and I care not what Jerry Springer Managements would promote … Young Soloists do themselves irreparable harm by score-reading performances, which belong to the rehearsal room, and must stay there. 
The Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) Suite Popular Espaňola for Cello & Piano was a highly intelligent choice to begin the concert with, plunging the audience instantly into the sunny shores and sweet melancholies of de Falla’s Spanish heaven. The composer was one of a cluster of musicians (Bartok in Hungary for example) re-discovering, exploring and developing contemporaneously their national folk-musical culture. He was lucky to be a student of that remarkable musicologist Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922), a Catalan, who was in turn providentially fortunate to have nursed the huge talents of Albeniz and Granados too – any one of whom would have been enough to embrace posterity as their teacher! 
Nana is a melody of such exquisite beauty and sweet, unbearable melancholy that it feels as if it tells the whole sad story of mankind’s creation by a mad sado-masochist god, who thinks Man, his own image, must be punished to death through insufferable suffering here on earth, merely to acquire wisdom in an after-life.
Canción and Polo are passionately percussionist, when not discretely melodic. In La Jota, the end piece, occasionally both melody and rhythmic essence unite conflict-free.
His Pampeana No 2 begins with a lengthy introduction that could pass as an improvisational cadenza anytime. It settles down into an interesting dialogue with the Piano, and the whole thing gradually evolves structurally into the Sonata form – the dynamic form of a Sonata, with the typical variations in dynamics, of contrasting rhythms belonging to a symphonic structure.
While Ginastera’s work was implicitly, covertly of the sonata form, Villa-Lobos is explicitly and overtly so – and there the sensitive similarity ends.
In the first movement (allegro moderato), an entirely unexpected cadenza-like introduction by the … Piano (not the Cello!) hugs the centre of all attention – you would be excused for thinking that this is a solo … Piano piece, until Villa-Lobos eases the Cello in … that is when ‘he’, the ‘virile’ Cello, finally succeeds dropping in casually, on the antics of the Piano, unannounced, pretending that he did not really mean to …
He plays along the piano, not with it, gently seeking to catch her attention – to no avail, she ignores him musically, he is not angry, lets the Piano have her way, finally accepting his failure attempting to dominate her, and more in the bargain – like the New Man of the nineties, the Cello agrees to role-reversal, and ends up accompanying the Piano, honouring her musical alpha-female status …
Villa-Lobos must have been a male-feminist long before the post-modern species was born in the nineties. And this work is a pioneering musical illustration of gender politics – I think intensely subjective and autobiographical. Either, he had an excellent equilateral marriage for as long as it lasted (divorced in 1936), or it reflects the impossible dream of the ideal marriage all heterosexual couples can only fantasize about.
In the andante cantabile of the second movement, the virile cello enters very early on to stake his territory. But soon, almost immediately, he lets his Piano show off in crackling musical pyrotechnics, helping along patiently, unobtrusively. Thus gratified, the feminine Piano defers now to the Cello’s own alpha-male primacy.
In the scherzo, underlined by the allegro scherzando, the Piano cracks musically an excellent joke, a crackling (perhaps even a kama-sutra) joke – the Cello joins in, and they both end in hilarity – an ultra post-modernist moment!
The last movement in appositely selected and defined dynamics as allegro vivace sostenuto is a masterly end to all that went before in this Duo’s Dating-game. They start the movement together, Cello and Piano hand-in-glove, already well-tempered, mated and already married.
Villa-Lobos has one more naughty glint in his musical child’s eyes – of hardly a single bar’s length, but what a magnificent powerful blow – the movement ends with an unexpected huge sound produced jointly by both instruments – a triumphant public declaration of vows (?), of heterosexual Love (?), perhaps Orgasm (?), with a message writ musically large; Married couples of the world – stay put! Or perhaps, Couples of the World – get married!
The Piano tries to return to the tango through musical quotes. The Cello won’t have it … but of course only teasingly just for a moment, he succumbs easily to the Piano’s tango-esque charms, and they start all over again – another dance – tango of course! – And a very different one from the first.
One could see how exhausted even these young musicians were, as they had given all to their audience with such total professional commitment and joy.
The Path may be long and arduous, but endowed with exceptional musical intelligence, Greatness certainly awaits them.
 On the 28th March 1995, one of the great Pianists of our time, Artur Papazian, the Armenian virtuoso stunned the Carnegie Hall audience in New York by playing Chopin’s 24 Etudes and 24 Preludes with the precise Dynamics of the original by sheer Memory – trained in the grand Romantic tradition of Soviet Piano-playing, Papazian preserves its best traditions and has everything to teach the musicians of the future by his technical musical behaviour.
De Falla himself had inherited the restless world-weary Spanish Soul. Born in Cádiz, he taught Piano in Madrid, and then settled in Paris for seven years (1907-14), then back to Spain until 1939 – he was inconsolably disturbed by the
De Falla left his beloved country in disgust, never to return, as he reached Argentina … and died there, in Buenos Aires (14th November, 1946), having rejected all ‘friendly’ offers by the war-criminal Franco himself, of a ‘glorious’ return on a fat pension to the fascist regime …
A man of gentle but sardonic wit, de Falla seems to have followed Debussy’s foolish advice, until that is, after Debussy’s death, when in 1920 de Falla composed a beautiful piece for … Guitar (the only one of his works written for the instrument), a Homage to his friend titled The Tomb of Claude Debussy, where de Falla quoted Debussy’s own … Piano piece evoking … Granada (La Soirée dans Grenade) – de Falla’s own favourite place on earth.
Alas, alack, who can tell what deadly poison Debussy’s well-meaning mind injected into de Falla’s soul to abort great masterpieces in conception for the Guitar.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) himself was forced into the role of a reluctant musical nationalist who rescued the subtleties of French music from the dominance of Richard Wagner’s brutal, anti-Semitic and quite hysterical Germanic ultra-nationalism – expressed musically in repetitious over-long-and-stretched unresolved chords and keys, and obnoxiously incestuous librettos, written by Wagner’s own self-confessed-and-obsessed Jew-hating self!
The great composers from Bach to Beethoven and Brahms grounded themselves in (Euro) folklore, to transform those popular dances into the melodies and movements of their Sonatas, and Suites, Concertos, and Symphonies …
The Euro-Aristocrats had no music – they enjoyed like Peeping Toms watching their peasants celebrate life itself – the historical fact is wonderfully captured by Mozart in The Marriage of Figaro!
The Troubadours that invented Court-music and romantically serenaded the chatelaines imprisoned in ‘golden cages’ with sadistic iron-clad chastity-belts waiting for their aristocratic Knights in shining armoires were not Aristocrats, but nomadic itinerant jobless peasants with the gift of the gab!
When the Aristocrats finally began dancing in their Courts elegantly and stiffly – just to prove they were not vulgar like their sex-mad peasants – they could still only use the well-grounded tunes and rhythms of their Folks!
 Ironically, de Falla, this most Spanish of composers – speaking purely in musical terms – sounds to me to be also the most … ‘Russian’ – just like his friend and mentor in France, Claude Debussy, who had sojourned in Russia – having imbibed and absorbed orchestration techniques from the great Russian masters, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov … this fact alone could put paid to the musicological dogma about the late 19th century composers that they wished to explore their own musical cultural heritage as ‘ardent nationalists’! The famously named The Five led by Mily Balakirev, an army officer, were even self-taught (like Felipe Pedrell in Spain) – incidentally, an inexplicable miracle in the history of music!
Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), a naval cadet, was their great mentor and master of orchestration, who had learnt all from … Tchaikovsky, and taught all to the Five frequently, even re-touching and finishing their works – Borodin’s unfinished Prince Igor (1889), and Mussorgsky’s (1839-81) Boris Godunov (1896) operas etc.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic poem Scheherazade (1888) on Oriental-Islamic themes exudes as much the erotic delights of Alhambra-Spain I think, as the aristocratic Spanish dances in the Ballets of Tchaikovsky – in the Swan Lake (1876) and The Nutcracker (1891-2), where no opportunities are missed by jolly courtiers to use castanets and cymbals …
Likewise Manuel de Falla, who learnt from Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) – Rimsky-Korsakov’s student – whose seminal The Firebird (1910) and The Rite of Spring (1913) together fecundated I think de Falla’s ballet El Amor Brujo (Love – The Magician, 1915), proven at least by its most famous number, the similarly titled Danza ritual del fuego (Ritual Fire Dance). No wonder, in 1917, Serge Diaghilev, the Russian Ballet impresario who had earlier fecundated Stravinsky’s musical genius did the same to de Falla by commissioning and producing the latter’s El Sombrero de tres Picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), with set designs by Pablo Picasso.
What saved his soul from its sale to the fascist devil was Bach’s divine music – between 1932 (No. 1 for 8 cellos) and 1944 (No. 9 for Chorus or String Orchestra) Villa-Lobos produced one of the most original, beautiful, nation-less (internationalist), spiritual compilation of nine pieces known as Bachianas Brasileiras – deserving of Johann Sebastian Bach, the god of all music.
A friend of mine, Robert Kruszynski, of Polish parentage, Biologist and Social Anthropologist, has an acute observation; “Nationalism is the specter that has been haunting Europe since at least 1789 (national sentiments can be found of course way back in the Middle Ages of Europe). It is, without a doubt in my mind, the most important political force of modern times …”
The European ‘nationalist’ composers plunged into their countries’ intellectually neglected cultures – in their turn totally multi-ethnic, hence ripe for exciting discoveries to be made – in search of new musical forms and fresh innovative expressions, not as drumbeats for racist nationalism – what patriotic Musicologists have merely fantasized.
What is denied hitherto by blinkered imperialist historians is the unalterable historical fact that the imperialist ‘nations’ themselves were constituted entirely by multi-ethnic diversity. Catherine the Great was not Russian! Marie Antoinette was not French … The present peoples of any South American country, for example, have the most astounding surnames that have fossilized global ethnic diversity, and not only from Europe – a ‘Gandelman’ from Brazil, for example, is a … Yiddish ‘candle-man’ from an Orthodox Russian stetl caged in a Nazi Polish ghetto …
Tchaikovsky’s whole work creates if not reflects a multi-ethnic world – the Court dances in his Ballets, Italian Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (1870), Capriccio Italien (op. 45, 1880), German-titled Manfred Symphony (op. 58, 1885), Symphony No. 2 (1873), which he revised subsequently and titled I think very subversively Little Russian at a time when Russian racist chauvinism was having a field-day aggrandizing themselves as Great Russians by belittling everybody else of their neighbours – the Poles and the Ukrainians to mention but two – Nikolai Gogol, their greatest novelist of the day, was actually a … Ukrainian often denigrated with an abusive rude nickname khokhol (= cock’s crest! referring to the Cossack haircut – the Ukrainian underdogs reciprocated, name-calling the Russians katsap =goat-like!). Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s greatest poet who had modernized the antiquated Russian language was the grandchild of an … African slave-boy brought over as a gift to the Tsar – the mind boggles as to what for!
The Spaniards, and the South Americans, for historical reasons, were there already waiting in the wings. Stravinsky, although initially abused in Paris, offered them and subsequently everybody else in the musical world the green light of respectability to integrate Jazz – the Black Man’s Music – and its syncopated rhythms into the modernist classical idiom.
Unfortunately, Stravinsky too suffered from the occasional bout of human stupidity – he wrote in his Autobiography (1936) with an incredible masochism and self-harm – “Music is, by its very nature …. Powerless to express anything at all” – utter tosh! denying the essence of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Beethoven’s 1-9 Symphonies – precursors of the 19th c. genre of the ‘Symphonic Poem’, evolving into Debussy’s ‘musical impressionism’ (the masterly La Mer = The Sea, 1905) … and his own very work The Firebird (1910) and The Rite of Spring (1913) where Stravinsky succeeds perfectly to express musically complex narrative themes and metaphors. Obviously, they shared intellectual foolishness … what is not acknowledged and I think very unfairly is Debussy’s own influence (Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune - 1894) on Stravinsky’s said works.
In 1892, Albéniz settled down in Paris, where his house provided warmth for Spanish artists including Granados and de Falla, and by which time Albéniz had composed a series of dances representing different regions of Spain (compiled in 1887 as Suite Espaňola). This had a seminal inspirational direct influence on the music of his compatriots – Granados similarly composed twelve Spanish Dances (12 Danzas Espaňolas), and echoes can be detected in de Falla’s Seven Spanish Popular Songs, some of which are also dance tunes, like La Jota (of the Aragón region).
An English eccentric, Francis Burdett Coutts, the inordinately wealthy heir of no less than the Bankers (Coutts & Co.) to Britain’s Royalty was mad for writing librettos on fanciful heroics like the legendary King Arthur … he generously contracted Albéniz (in 1894) to his service in London, where the composer could bring his wife Rosina and family of three children – their lives secured financially for good.
As Francis Coutts got bored with writing librettos, it created a mental and an emotional space for Albéniz to return to his own musical truth grounded in the Spanish landscape, to produce finally his masterpiece Iberia (1905-8). Little could anyone predict that a year later, on a fun-trip to the French Pyrenees (in May 1909), the great composer would catch kidney infection (nephritis) and pass away, leaving a legacy that would nourish the Spanish soul, as much that of Granados, who had the misfortune of sharing similarly an unnecessary death, even worse and totally preventable!
 Granados’ opera Goyescas was to be premiered in 1914 in Paris. The outbreak of the ridiculous First World War instigated by the German Kaiser (a grandson of the British Queen Victoria) ruined the occasion. Instead, the premiere took place in peaceful New York (on the 26th of January, 1916) in as yet neutral America. Granados attended the occasion with his wife. The success was huge, enough for President Woodrow Wilson to invite him for a Piano recital … which forced him to miss his boat directly back to Spain – no air-travel then!
And as a first idea in innovative evil, the Anglo-German Kaiser had decided to try out his new toy, a U-boat (UB 29) to torpedo the Sussex (March 1916) outraging the world. Half of the ship was instantly destroyed in the English Channel – fifty lives lost immediately.
The Great Granados, lucky and safely in a life-boat notices his wife Amparo at some distance struggling in the water. He jumps in to save his wife, only to be drowned himself … they say he had nursed a morbid fear of water (hydrophobia) throughout his life!
What a rare human being – what deep heterosexual love – What depth of Heterosexual love – A true Hero, not a Wagnerian camp incestuous Nazi Phony – how sad – how tragic – how … Everything!
Should not Germany today apologize for it, and compensate Spain by creating a fund for creative Spanish artists?
 Precisely as Segovia had created the classical Guitar, Pablo Casals (1876-1973) created the classical Cello – and both Spaniards began with Johann Sebastian Bach – a miraculous historical coincidence?
Casals’ performances of Bach’s Suites for unaccompanied Cello are the crown jewels of the world’s classical recordings – if the world is worth saving from the catastrophe of the climate change, it would be worth to save it for Casals/Segovia recordings of Bach’s music …
Born at Vendrell, a Catalan town, Casals was a child prodigy, son of an Organist cum music teacher father. By the age of 12, he could already play quite a few instruments of the orchestra. While an accomplished pianist, composer, and conductor, Casals was of course ultimately his cello, and the world’s ultimate cello … he invented new techniques of bowing and fingering.
Casals was also a great humanitarian all creative artists should emulate all over the world – I say, Globalize Pablo Casals’ dedication to world peace, not America’s obsession with capitalist warmongering.
Like de Falla, Casals rejected Franco’s fascist regime, sustained by Great Britain and later America that had strangled to death the democratically elected Spanish Republican government, supported by all the democrats of Europe, drowned in blood by Hitler and Mussolini in the slaughterhouse of the Spanish Civil War (1936-9).
Like de Falla, Casals too left Spain in disgust in 1939, never to return (he died in Puerto Rico). Further than de Falla, by late 1940s, Casals refused to play in any country – and especially Britain and America – that approved of General Franco. Only in 1963, aged 87, he lifted his self-imposed embargo partially, only to conduct (at London’s Festival Hall) his own composition advocating world peace – an Oratorio titled El Passebre (The Manger).
 Born in Buenos Aires of a Catalan father and an Italian mother, Ginastera was another of those multi-ethnic restless Spanish souls – he studied in America (1945-7) with the American modernist composer Aaron Copland, returned to his city Buenos Aires and co-founded the (Argentinean) League of Composers, only to return to the United States (1968), then finally to settle in Europe (1970) and died in Geneva, Switzerland aged 67.
 Ignoring his pompous nationalist hot-air, I would characterize the best of Heitor Villa-Lobos as French-Italianate music.
His genius is protean, Shakespearean, adapts to forms, and adopts them for his gargantuan musical appetites. And he always keeps stings in his musical tails that bite off all stereotypical expectations from the Western classical music formats he employs so abundantly. He builds them up only to subvert them, in the nick of time, just before the end of a section or a piece –
In musical technique, Villa-Lobos is like a naughty child given expensive time-honoured toys he plays with, constructs a tower, admires it, gets bored, and to the fury of complacent parents as the audience, knocks them down …
He reminds me very much (in literature) of the great German poet Heinrich Heine, who uniquely in classical German literature does precisely the same with words. Heine – the German poet with the most humour! – frequently slaughters the reader’s sacred cows.
 There is nothing like seeing with your own eyes Piazzolla play his bandoneón, covering his own heart with it, and gradually fanning it out like a huge butterfly … producing music in Bach-like grandeur of a fugue! The bandoneón as played by him turns instantly at once into a poor man’s miniscule orchestra, generating sounds as pleasant as in chamber music – say a Haydn Quartet.
And Piazzolla was as fertile a composer as Villa-Lobos, topping the latter’s 2000 pieces by a thousand more to 3000 …
Strangely, just like Albeniz at the age of 13 reaching South America, Piazzolla at 13 was head-hunted by Carlos Gardel – a master of the tango – to tour with his band. Unlike the case of Albeniz, the Italian parents of Piazzolla refused point blank to let their child go – Gardel and his band sadly soon after perished in an aeroplane crash …
Piazzolla grew up to escape the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-83) by living in his parents’ country, Italy. His revolutionary transformation of the tango inspired the social revolutionaries of the Argentine society, proving that dynamic political change was possible, if even the eternally fixed tango they thought was unalterable could be changed for the better and the richer …
The bandoneón itself is quite an extraordinary instrument. Piazzolla, its greatest grandest master performer says in a BBC-TV interview (accessible on YouTube), “anyone wants to play bandoneón must be mad” – and he is not joking (although of course he was partly …)
Like a modern Japanese Yamaha keyboard, the bandoneón ‘contains’ the texture of several orchestral instruments, especially strings-in-a-Quartet! Its maverick inventor was a German by the name of Heinrich Band, who intended it as a poor man’s instrument to perform … religious music normally accompanied on grand Church Organs. He could never imagine that his compatriots, German emigrants would carry it with them in early 20th c. to Argentina, where it would become an instrument for the erotic tango played in brothels …
And a musical genius like Piazzolla would come along to save the instrument from its local use to equal the global Church Organ – more than Heinrich Band could have ever dreamt of or hoped for.
The buttons on both sides of this ‘mad’ odd instrument do not constitute a keyboard like the ones on the conventional accordion. And worst – more maddeningly – most of the buttons on the bandoneón do not produce the same note when opening its accordion-folds outwards or closing them inwards.
There are thus two sets of different buttons to be learnt for each pitch (or single note) on each aggregate of the buttons on each side, both together amounting overall to a schizophrenic … four keyboards!
It does need a … genius to play it perfectly, let alone to transform it into a church Organ! And that genius was undoubtedly the unique Piazzolla – another like him shall never be.