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World premiere of an unfinished piece by the renowned Catalan composer Montsalvatge at the Peralada Festival

The Cadaqués Orchestra played ‘Concerto libero’, an unfinished work for piano and cello at the Peralada’s Carme Church, in northern Catalonia. The Costa Brava festival is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth whose works have achieved international acclaim. The world premiere of the piece by Xavier Montsalvatge was the highlight of the concert which was dedicated to the composer, one of the most prominent figures in Catalan music.

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21 August 2012 10:04 PM

by

ACN / Xavier Pi / David Tuxworth

Barcelona (ACN).- The \u2018Concerto libero\u2019, an unfinished work by the Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge was heard for the first time last night at the Peralada\u2019s Carme Church, in the Alt Empordà County, in northern Catalonia. The Costa Brava\u2019s International Music Festival \u2018Castell de Peralada\u2019 is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the composer\u2019s birth, who achieved international acclaim. The world premiere of the piece written for cello and piano, interpreted by the Cadaqués Orchestra, was the highlight of the concert which the Castell de Peralada festival has dedicated to Montsalvatge. However the program also included other works by the composer, such as \u2018Petita suite burlesca\u2019.


Xavier Montsalvatge (1912-2002) is one of the most representative figures of the \u2018lost generation\u2019, having lived through the Spanish Civil War and the Franco\u2019s oppressive dictatorship. The composer was born in Girona and studied in Barcelona at the prestigious music school Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu. His orchestral works have achieved worldwide acclaim and serve as a model for composers not only in Catalonia but also internationally.

Until now, \u2018Concerto libero\u2019 had been consigned to history. In the early 1950s, after a request from cellist and fellow composer Gaspar Cassadó, Montsalvatge started the project with enthusiasm and in a short time had more or less finished the first movement and outlined the second. There were just a few ideas for the third movement that would have completed the piece. On Monday evening, in the Esglèsia del Carme, in Peralada, the Cadaqués Orchestra brought the piece designed for piano and cello to life for the first time ever.

Apparently Montsalvatge and Cassadó, met in the early summertime of 1953 (the date stated on the manuscript of the piece). They performed sections of the piece together, Montsalvatge on the piano and Cassadó on the cello. However the collaboration fell apart when Cassadó began to suggest changes and modifications. Xavier Montsalvatge considered his ideas as excessive interventionism. This problem meant that \u2018Concerto libero\u2019 was left at the back of a drawer for almost 60 years. Last night the piece was resurfaced in front of an audience of about 150 people in the church of the monastery devoted to the Virgin of Carmen, in Peralada.

The world premiere of the piece by Montsalvatge was the highlight of the concert which the 26th Castell de Peralada Festival dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Catalan composer\u2019s birth. In addition to \u2018Concerto libero\u2019 the program included three more pieces, \u2018Petita suite burlesca\u2019 (first played in March in Girona, the opening piece for the \u2018Year of Montsalvatge\u2019 performances), \u2018Serenata a Lídia de Cadaqués\u2019 and \u2018Tres reflexos sobre una postal d'hivern\u2019.

Tribute to the composer\u2019s genius

By means of the concert, the festival, organised each summer in Peralada\u2019s castle, church and gardens, has honoured the composer\u2019s creative genius. Montsalvatge is the author of magnificent pieces which the likes of Catalan soprano Victoria de los Ángeles, pianist Alícia de Larrocha, musician Nicanor Zabaleta and guitarist Narciso Yepes interpreted and popularised worldwide.

The Peralada Festival had a similar first performance of a work by Xavier Montsalvatge in the past. In 1994, the castle\u2019s gardens hosted the premiere of the opera \u2018Babel 46 \u2018, written by the composer in 1967.

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  • An image from yesterday's concert, featuring Montsalvatge's works (by X. Pi)

  • An image from yesterday's concert, featuring Montsalvatge's works (by X. Pi)