Stoke Newington Guitar Festival's opening lunchtime concert features rarely performed works for Voice and Guitar by Federico Garcia Lorca and Manuel De Falla.
García Lorca may be best known for his literary achievements, yet few great poets and playwrights have been involved in music to the extent that he was. Reported to have hummed tunes before he could talk, he received early musical training; by the age of eleven he was studying piano in Granada with Antonio Segura and Francisco Benítez. Pedro Revuelta, in his article Lorca and Music somehow assigned the precise figure of 87% to his life activities revolving around music.
Lorca collected and arranged many Spanish folk songs, particularly from his native Andalusian region in the south, perhaps tinkering with their words himself. His moving performances of them, sometimes singing and accompanying himself on piano or guitar, became well known to millions of Spaniards before he was shot in the early days of the Spanish Civil War, apparently by supporters of Franco. His refusal to write down his arrangements is in keeping with the history of the oral tradition that so fascinated him. He also disliked the inability of the musical notation to reflect the characteristic microtonal and rhythmic complexities of this music. Fortunately in 1931 he made five records of his arrangements, sung by La Argentinita and accompanied by himself on the piano; these have been transcribed and performed countless times since.
Siete canciones populares españolas ("Seven Spanish Folksongs") is a 1914 set of traditional Spanish songs arranged for soprano and piano by the composer Manuel de Falla. Besides being Falla's most-arranged composition and one of his most popular, it is one of the most frequently performed sets of Spanish-language art songs. The set was dedicated to Madame Ida Godebska.
The styles and provenance of the songs are strikingly diverse. They are from different parts of Spain: an asturiana is from Asturias, in the north; the seguidilla, a type of flamenco, from Murcia, in the southeast. "Nana" is a lullaby, but "Polo" a wild desire for revenge on an unfaithful lover. All the texts deal with love and the courting process, whether playfully, seriously, or tragically.
About the performers:
Gina Fergione - mezzo-soprano
Gina studied music at Dartington College of Arts and Goldsmith College, University of London. She won a Lilian Baylis award to study with English National Opera working with Anthony Legge, Mary King, Rufus Norris and Deborah Warner. She is a mezzo-soprano, a composer, a vocational teacher and choir director.
Francesco Mariani - guitar
Francesco studied at the Royal Northern College of Music. He is tutor of guitar at the Purcell School for Young Musicians and has performed and given workshops at the Wirral Guitar Festival, Bath Guitar Festival, London Classical Guitar Festival, Greenwich Guitar Festival, Classic FM and the BBC.