Duration: 6'17" direct link to YouTube
I wroteVariations sur "La Folia" only as a challenge and of course inspired by the great master Marin Marais Folies d'Espagne. On the video at YouTube I only played an excerpt of the 17 variations. The music is not yet publisshed and in fact I am looking for a publisher yet. I will record the omposition on the Fidelio label coming May. Although I was born in .Bordeaux, France, nowadays I live close to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Let's mention that the March 8th, two days ago, there was a concert of contemporary music on the La Folia theme. Three musicians asked 11 composers to write on La Folia. The trio name "Les Folles Alliees" : Cléo Palacio-Quintin, hyper-flûte et électronique, Elin Söderström, viole de gambe Artiste invitée : Katelyn Clark, clavecin.
Elin Söderström who asked me to write a piece for solo gamba. The tiltle : "La Violia" The other composers are :
Martin Arnold ,Marie-Pierre Brasset, Stacey Brown, Eric Clark, Emily Doolittle, Grégoire Jeay, Chantale Laplante, Analía Llugdar, Tawnie Olson, Cléo Palacio-Quintin et Marie-Claire Saindon.
Detail of the program March 5, 2005
If I recall correctly, the marimba started fairly simply, and as the piece progressed
(it was quite long) slowly got more aggressive and the Sinfonia played less; the last couple of variations were
It's hard to judge the piece alone, though. The concert started and ended with ensemble pieces (Brandenburg 3, and a Vivaldi Concerto for 4 violins) by the Northern Sinfonia, a fairly small ensemble who were absolutely excellent -- played with real drama and feeling for the period, absolutely together, and with virtuoso skill and lots of enthusiasm. We enjoyed those immensely, and so the works in between -- concertos featuring Evelyn Glennie and/or cellist Julian Lloyd Webber -- seemed a bit flat by comparison.
And although Glennie is a superb player, I didn't feel that her instruments really suited any of the music. She played an ottavino concerto on vibraphone, which sustained far too much, and her marimba also took the part of a cello in a Vivaldi double cello concerto, which didn't really balance properly against either cello or strings. My other nit-pic was that both soloists seemed to play as if they were in romantic works -- a bit too much rubato and change of mood and dynamic for baroque works; and the Sinfonia had to play too quietly to give them the necessary space. An interesting experiment, and well worth hearing, but not as enjoyable as the Sinfonia alone.
Still, the Folia in particular was amazing to watch. She used four mallets at once (two in each hand), flourishing great chords and rolls and semiquaver runs in a very impressive manner. So in short, yes, it was worth hearing; a little odd, but very well played.
The marimba gives the tune a melancholic and 'native' quality.And Mrs Resida wrote about the same concert (March 5, 2005):
The strings were playing in a low register probably to meet the timbre of the marimba and
that is why the opening of the piece sounded a bit 'Unheimisch' and dramatical compared to the version of
Corelli for violin and b.c.
Fortunately there were some virtuoso soloparts for the marimba because the string section was too massive for a nice balance with the marimba. The full sound of the marimba simply drowned into all that bowing. Rather striking, because in the other pieces by Vivaldi the quality of the individual percussion instruments (marimba and vibes) stood out well.
La Folia (The Leaf, 2004) for marimba and strings, was commissioned by IMG Artists for, and premiered by, Dame Evelyn Glennie. It is based on a violin sonata by Arcangelo Corelli and is in one movement.
Detail of ticket March 5, 2005
Duration: 0'58", 933 kB. (128kB/s, 44100Hz)
Alex Stroud plays the entire piece in a live performance
La Folia Folio was commissioned by Canadian guitarist Harold Micay. He wanted a work that he could splash around in. The result is a set of variations based on the chord progression from the famous theme La Folia d'Espagna. That work has a rich and long history of attracting composers. There are sets of varations by A. Scarlatti, C.P.E. Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli, Liszt, Nielsen and Rachmaninoff, not to mention dozens of sets by guitar guys like Sanz, Corbetta, Sor and Giuliani. I have tried to stress the dance nature of the theme by using only the harmonic progression, omitting the melody altogether, though there is a weird paraphrase of it about halfway through. The work is a blast to play and I enjoy splashing in it as often as I can.David Tanenbaum played 'La Folia Folio' as part of his concert tour in the USA, Canada and Germany, January-April 1998 (source: Tom Welsh, New Albion Records)
Bryan Johanson is a native of Portland, Oregon, and is a Professor of Music and founder of the
guitar studies program at Portland State University. His catalogue of over eighty compositions reflects
a wide variety of interests that extends far beyond the guitar. He has written several substantial works
for solo guitar, and in recent years has focused a major portion of his energy on writing chamber music
for the guitar.
The emphasis on the harmonic progression is most similar to the folía settings by Corbetta and Sor, where the inherently chordal and rhythmic nature of the guitar is showcased. Although La Folia Folio is clearly in a modern idiom, the faster tempo and many special effects evoke the wildness of the earliest folías.
Bryan Johanson's ten-minute exploration of Las Folias... remains a worthy vehicle for Partington's considerable technical powers...
The vinyl version of the original performance
The Variations on the Spanish La Folia by Conrad De Jong rests within a tradition of extraordinary durability. The Portugese - Spanish Renaissance dance music pattern, La Folia, was said to reflect madness of an empty head, doubtless a reflection of the dance style. The version which emerged in late seventeenth century France was an isomatric harmonic progression accompanying a melody marked by sarabande-like dotted rhythm. De Jong's contribution to the form demands soloistic virtuosity from each instrument in variations three through seven. The theme in its traditional harmonic garb first appears in its entirety only within the second variation, where it is complemented by obligato figures. Supplementing the motivic material supplied by the theme is a derived motive heard in the brief introduction, which is a permutation of the initial three pitches of the original melody. In the eighth variation, the motive initiates a gradual reversion to the Folia melody which concludes the workRobert S. Howe wrote in an oboe review:
This quintet presents an introduction, 8 variations on La Folia, and a final statement of that theme. It is in an appropriately modern idiom (being completed in 1985) and requires good players, but is always approachable for both players and audience. Each member of the quintet takes a turn as soloist, but the real star of this piece is the bassoon; variation 6 has three extended bassoon cadenzas, presenting the bassoonist as a jazz soloist a la Coltrane. Scoring is effective and the horn, often a sticky point in woodwind quintet music, is very well handled, adding weight by intelligent use of its middle register without being overbearing. The parts are of moderate difficulty, the oboe never goes above F and the bassoon, above Bb. The Variations will be best suited for established quintets that wish to expand their repertoire to include an effective and somewhat modern work.
The two performances of improvisation based upon the Folia theme which are available at the web differ completely. Not a single note is written down and I use the theme as a vehicle for the instant improvisation
My inspiration to pick the Folia theme of all music is that originally it is considered as a musical framework consisting of bass, melody, harmony and rhythm suitable to improvise upon. I try to take this practice a step further and use the theme as inspiration of my improvisations. It comes and goes whenever it is convenient or spontanuously my mindset leads that way during a concert. The version on YouTube was created at the spot and got its shape without any planning. It is quite impossible to play it once more without writing down all the notes. The Folia improvisation I recorded for Improdisiac had a similar treatment. It was recorded in one take and it is a different approach and atmosphere.
Karst de Jong improvises on the Folia theme, Vila-seca Music Festival 2011
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