Hubert de Blanc and the non-stop walk

Several decades separate us from the time when Hubert de Blanc (1856-1932) drew inspiration from the Greater Antilles, the place where he settled, created, studied and contributed to our culture. This virtuoso Dutch musician made his hand imprint on different shores and mixed it with the elements of the earth, which was on the way of his liberation path.

Today, thanks to the efforts of contemporary musicians, Hubert de Blanc resounds in all its fullness, with great relevance, thanks to the creative process that contributed to the efforts to save the heritage, which put before the listeners of this century the musical greatness of the great creator of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Hubert de Blanc: The Flying Dutchman Volume 1 Chamber Music (La Ceiba), it’s not just a record. This is the door to De Blanc’s sonic universe, full of references to his creative path, consisting mainly of elements of Holland and Cuba, with influences from his time and a touch of the performers who interpret his music today.

The phonogram received three awards during the latest edition of the Cubadisco Awards. Photo: Courtesy of the Esteban Salas Music Heritage Cabinet

This is only the beginning of future journeys, the purpose of which is to save the work of the Dutch composer and teacher with the help of scores and documents that have been stored for decades in the archives of the National Museum of Music.

Its director, Jesús Gómez Cairo (1949–2023), was approached by the leaders of this project, which was supported by the Esteban Salas Musical Heritage Office, the Cuban Center for Research and Development of Music, the Mozart Lyceum in Havana, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cuba, as well as specialists Miriam Escudero and José Raul Lopez, among others.

The result was the first phonographic delivery, with a musical production by José Antonio Méndez, who also took over the overall production along with Gabriela Rojas; recorded, mixed and mastered by Orest Agila. This is the salvation of the chamber music format in the work of De Blanc.

This was the result of a live concert recorded at the San Felipe Neri Oratorio in Havana on November 13, 2022 as part of the Classic Havana festival. From there, material is developed that becomes pure ambrosia for the ears and was recognized at the last edition of the Cubadisco Awards with three awards: Prize for Artistic Excellence – there would be no other qualifier for this material – a statuette in the chamber music section and in the musical notation section for specialist Gabriela Rojas.

It is in these notes that the musicologist states that “De Blanc is useless in his works, he uses the lyricism of themes and the coloristic effects of chromatic harmony, never abandoning the limitations of tonality, of which he was a clear advocate”. . Undoubtedly, the music of The Flying Dutchman does not leave indifferent listener: this is both a path and an accompaniment, from Andante moderate To allegro risolutoin that florid dialogue of violin and cello strings with a predominance of the piano, in various combinations that arise.

This concerto, which will resound forever thanks to invaluable recording material, brought together the interpretive desires of the main movements that characterized De Blanc’s worldview: on the one hand, the strings of the Dutchmen Thijmen Huizinga and Willem Stam, and on the other hand, the violin. Cuban Lisbeth Sevila, viola Anolana Gonzalez and pianists Carla Martinez and Marcos Madrigal. Together, musicians from everywhere open up to the public Hubert de Blanc beyond the stone plaque or monument tribute and offer him to us in the vibrant sounds of a creator who inhabited music for the joy of generations to come.

From chamber to symphony

Nearly a year after that chamber music concert, we returned to the San Felipe Neri Oratory for a memorable presentation: the recently concluded Cubadisco International Fair couldn’t have started better. symphonic Hubert de Blanc is a continuation of this search in the work of the “Flying Dutchman”, now with a greater share.

This time, the great host was the Havana Lyceum Orchestra, under the direction of José Antonio Méndez, responsible for the “modern premiere” of works held in the archives of the National Music Museum. More than musical works, they testify to the creative spirit of the man who founded the first conservatory in Cuba in 1885, as well as the Havana Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gonzalo Roig in 1922. Then we find Hubert de Blanc who planted his flag in the land of the Cubans and whose music crossed the rivers of creation to travel the valleys of this land.

This is how they show up Romance, cap And tarantella, this suite of dances for orchestra, written in New York in 1881, with a brief skill to capture the movement that contributes to the sound, that state of accompanying dance that the music has. WITH Ave Maria And tropical dance vocals take on a sublime dimension; and the imposing Barbara Llanes transforms the space, and the Oratorio fits in his throat, seduced by the notes that De Blanc directs, that this is a moment for excitement.

celebration Elegythe composition that the Dutch creator dedicated to Major General Calixto Garcia and which is filled with epic sound references is the same one that, with particular drama and lyricism, rellollos is in Tribute to Antonio Maceo. Exalting parts, no doubt. Five works that shock the public of this century for the first time after decades dwelling in spaces of silence.

The rest of the pieces complete a fairly complete sample of De Blanc’s sonic imagination, and Marcos Madrigal’s piano reappears as the voice of the Dutchman saying, “Here we are again.” Theatrical dynamism To walk And Allegrofor piano and orchestra, mixed with Cuban whimwhere he shows how the composer appropriated elements of country music to illustrate the Cuban in his orchestral production.

The music of The Flying Dutchman becomes a valuable discovery not only for the creators who saved and processed their scores, but also for their performers. The public, after all, is the biggest beneficiary of this ancestral rescue operation, which appreciates the work of Hubert de Blanc, whose journey I hope will not stop for a long time to come.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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