Menu Close

Liquen Records releases “Fuego en el aire”, dedicated almost entirely to the chamber music of José Miguel Moreno Sabio.

The record label Liquen Records, specialised in the diffusion of improvised and experimental music, released at the end of 2022 Fuego en el aire [Fire in the Air], an album dedicated almost entirely to the chamber music of the Spanish composer José Miguel Moreno Sabio (Motril, 1956), performed by the Grupo Cosmos 21. Almost entirely means that of the one hour and nineteen minutes that the recording lasts, there are only nine minutes that are not by Moreno Sabio: Tiento, by the French composer Mauricio Ohana (Casablanca, 1913-Paris, 1992) and Drei Tentos, by the German Hans Werner Henze (Gütersloh, 1926-Dresden, 2012), but in these two short pieces – the second, in three movements – Moreno Sabio intervenes as arranger, and the recording was made live on 17 October 2021 in a concert held at the Centro Cultural Adolfo Suárez in the Madrid town of Tres Cantos. The rest of the album, which features the music of Moreno Sabio, was also recorded live, but in another venue and on another date: on 15 June 2022 at the Auditorio de Cuenca, in a tribute concert to the composer on his retirement after thirty-three years teaching Composition, Musical Analysis and Harmony at the Conservatorio Profesional de Música Pedro Aranaz in the capital city of Cuenca. Grupo Cosmos 21 was accompanied on the occasion by professional musicians, former students of the conservatory whom Moreno Sabio had taught throughout his long academic career, and the repertoire chosen (which can be heard on the disc) consisted of Comme des brouillards silencieux (with the pianist Inma Calzado as soloist), a work composed in 2016 commissioned by Grupo Cosmos 21, which the composer himself defines as “a concertino-nocturne for piano and five instruments”, which is based on a quotation by Debussy (Brouillars, the first prelude of the second book of Preludes for piano) and is gradually transformed “to connect it to my own sound world based on common elements”; Momento musical para un cuadro abstracto [Musical moment for an abstract painting], composed in 2019, and which, according to Moreno Sabio “recreates, from the sounds, the painting Ornitóptero, by Fernando Zóbel”, seeking “to densify the sound texture from the use of multiphonics and other timbre resources of the instrument”, in this case, the saxophone, played by Joaquín Franco; Oda a los niños muertos (with Carlos Galán on piano), is, in the words of the author, “a desperate cry” against war and its victims “especially when they are children”. A Palestinian lullaby is the backbone of the score, composed in 2018 but not premiered until now, after contemplating the image of the little Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, found dead on the shore of a Turkish beach in September 2015, inviting us, from its immense tenderness, “to become aware of this drama”; Arieta imaginada (with Valentina Martínez and Marta Aparicio, on flute and guitar, respectively), is a simple melody for flute, composed in 2009, which “is based on an arrangement for guitar of the Prelude to the Suite BWV 1007 by Johann Sebastian Bach; the Sonatina for flute and piano (with Clara Burgos as flute soloist and the pianists Jorge Fontela and Juan Martínez) is the oldest piece on the disc, composed in 1987 and revised in 2015; the Sonata for violin and piano number two (with Alejandro González as violinist and Marta Leiva as pianist) is also an older piece, composed in 1996 and revised two years later, of which Moreno Sabio says it is “a piece of great technical demand for the performers in its two extreme movements, which frame a hyper-expressive central movement”; Sons do cabloco (again with Marta Leiva) was composed in 2018 and is articulated “in two movements that draw on Brazilian popular music with the aim of bringing me closer to the culture of the author of the commission”, the pianist Alexandre Alcantara. The disc opens with Fuego en el aire (I and II), the first recording of two movements of an as yet unfinished opera. Both pieces will form part of the second act of La Desbandá, Moreno Sabio’s second opera, which will deal with one of the dramatic moments of the Spanish Civil War: the massacre on the Málaga-Almería road, popularly known as La Desbandada [The Stampede] (in the Andalusian accent “la desbandá”), which took place on 8 February 1937 (and was witnessed by his own mother, then a seven-year-old girl), when Franco’s planes strafed the people fleeing Málaga after General Queipo de Llano’s troops took the city. As the composer himself explains, “the first interlude corresponds to number 14b of the work and illustrates the fight to the death between two of the protagonists (Pedro and Veleño), an event which takes place before the astonished gaze of the crowd. A siren warns of the imminent attack by the air force, which immediately follows, leaving the esplanade strewn with corpses. The second interlude, number 11b of the work, sounds at the beginning of Act 2 at the moment when the crowd is bombarded from the sea”.

Moreno Sabio’s style is close to those of Antón García Abril and Carmelo Bernaola, two of his teachers, the former of Composition, the latter of Harmony: a language that does not seek to place itself in the avant-garde or to appear complex to the listener (in fact, his favourite 20th century composers are Ravel, Debussy and Penderecki), except in Momento musical para un cuadro abstracto, the most complex compositional work of those included on the disc. The remaining selected pieces, on the contrary, seek to accentuate musical expressivity with moments that exude an overwhelming emotionality.