by Mike Telin
“I’ve been attending these concerts at CIM since I was in middle and high school — before it was officially a festival,” Bay Village native and CIM faculty member Colin Davin recalled during a telephone interview from his home in New York. “I grew up on this Festival and it was where I learned to really love the classical guitar community.”
On Sunday, June 5 at 7:30 pm in CIM’s Mixon Hall, everything will come full circle for Colin Davin when he brings the Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival to conclusion with a recital of Spanish music by de Falla, José, Mompou, Tárrega, Torroba, and Turina.
Why a program of Spanish music? “In my youthful rebellion I kind of rejected the Spanish repertoire,” Davin said. “I wanted to set myself apart and I became very involved in new music as well as finding some hidden gems of 19th century repertoire.”
Little by little, Davin began to discover some Spanish repertoire that grabbed him, and soon developed a love for certain corners of that repertoire — a love that has become all-encompassing.
“My program on Sunday will highlight the different geography of Spanish guitar music,” Davin said. There will be Andalusian flamenco-inspired music, which is so commonplace, although credit should also be given to some other part of Spain. Isaac Albéniz’s Asturias is the most common example: the Asturias region is in northern Spain, and has nothing to do with Andalusia.”
Davin said that while he didn’t want to totally reject Andalusian music, which he said is brilliant, he wanted to create a program that embraces the diverse influences of Spanish guitar music. “The preludes by Francisco Tárrega that begin each half of the program act as introductions to the pieces that follow,” Davin explained. “They establish a graceful Parisian salon atmosphere by a composer from the Catalan region, which doesn’t speak Spanish.”
Following Tárrega’s Prelude no. 2 in a, which opens the program, Davin will continue with Joaquín Turina’s flamenco-inspired Hommage à Tárrega, op. 69.
The only work on the program not by a Spaniard is the little-known Swiss composer Hans Haug’s Three Pieces. “Haug wrote most of his guitar music for Segovia, although he never really championed any of it. His style is in the vein of Max Reger — late romantic, early modern, with extended tonalities and intricate contrapuntal textures reminiscent of the ‘Les Six’ composers. The piece was written at Santiago de Compostela, where Haug was teaching a summer course, and it beautifully captures the influence of Spanish music.”
The first half of Davin’s program will conclude with Federico Mompou’s Suite Compostelana. “The piece captures that narrative of going on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela,” the guitarist said. “The only movement that is overtly Galician, the region where Santiago is located, is the last, so it feels like we have arrived at the destination. I like the journey that happens during the piece: five movements of the very intimate music of Mompou, then ending with the explosive joy of a traditional Galician folk dance.
Following Tárrega’s Prelude no. 5 in E, which opens the second half of the program, Davin will continue with another example of the cosmopolitanism of Spanish music: Manuel de Falla’s Homenaje “Le Tombeau de Debussy.” “De Falla is thought of as the most flamenco of the great Spanish concert composers,” Davin said, “but here he is acknowledging his debt to the French impressionists. The piece is a wonderful cultural exchange between France and Spain.”
The program then moves to the Burgos region of Spain with Federico Moreno Torroba’s Burgalesa (a song from Burgos). “The Burgos region is just north of Madrid, and it’s also the region Antonio José comes from. Here the mood of the program shifts from the folksy into José’s massive Sonata for Guitar from 1933.”
In addition to teaching, Colin Davin is enjoying a very full performing career. One memorable performance was appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman alongside legendary soprano Jessye Norman. “It was a surreal experience because I didn’t fully grasp that I was playing that gig until I was in the studio,” Davin said. “I assumed that a person of Miss Norman’s caliber had someone else send her emails, so when one arrived directly from her I thought it was a hoax,” he recalled.
“I thought this has to be from a scam artist who researched me and knew exactly what I would fall for. But it was wonderful being in the studio for Dave’s last season, and getting the chance to play with Jessye Norman was such a thrill. She’s such a gracious collaborator. I remember that the producers set up a chair for Miss Norman and one for me about three feet back and to the side, and she said ‘No, no, I need him right here next to me’, which I think was for ensemble reasons, but it did put me front and center with her. I also had the honor of joining her at Carnegie Hall a few months later, which was also a breathtaking experience.”
While there is nothing on the books as far as future performances with Jessye Norman, Davin said that he is checking his email, especially the spam folder.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com June 3, 2016.
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