When on the 22nd of this month half a century has passed since the death of Pau Casals, the Palau de la Música Catalana will host the announced premiere of an orchestral version commissioned from maestro Antoni Ros Marbà that could well be described as “pocket-sized”, given that it What it seeks is that its interpretation can be carried out by a reduced orchestral formation, so that it is more agilely programmable than the one originally signed by Enric Casals, the brother of the legendary cellist and orchestra director.
The extensive orchestration that Enric Casals did also required having a large choir, which is why it is sometimes difficult to program.
Ros Marbà, who received this commission from Marta Casals herself, the widow, pointed out that the extensive orchestration by Enric Casals also required a large choir, which is why it is sometimes difficult to program. For this it is necessary to have a large symphonic formation and choral masses.
Thus, the 86-year-old composer and director has redone the score respecting its spirit and the character of the work. Starting from the original by Enric Casals, he has lightened the piece by orchestrating it for a smaller number of musicians. His alternative is for an orchestra of 55 musicians and also adaptable to a choir of between 50 and 60 voices.
According to Ros Marbà, the omission of certain fragments from the original version gives “sufficient agility while maintaining the musical spirit and the narrative.”
He himself will take the lead in this commemorative concert of the 50th anniversary of Casals’ death (5:30 p.m.), organized by the Fundació Pau Casals and the Fundació Orfeó Català-Palau de la Música Catalana. He will lead the Coral Càrmina and the Franz Schubert Filharmonia, with the soprano Mireia Tarragó, the mezzo Gemma Coma-Alabert, the tenor David Alegret and the baritones Joan Martín-Royo and Pau Armengol as soloists.
It is a masterpiece that sometimes has a popular air, but that also has references to Romanticism: Brahms and Casals had coincided, as did Debussy.”
The Manger born from the friendship of Pau Casals and Joan Alavedra (they shared a house and exile in Prada de Conflent since 1939), is for Ros Marbà “a masterpiece that sometimes has a popular air, but that also has musical references from the 19th century, particularly of Romanticism, taking into account that Brahms and Casals had coincided, as well as with Debussy,” he points out.
It was on Christmas 1934 that Alavedra wrote The Manger Poem for his daughter, and in 1943 he presented it at the Floral Games. Impressed by the simplicity and strength of the verses, Casals, a composer as well as a renowned cello player, orchestra director and teacher of young musicians, decided to set them to music. But it would not be until 1960 that his score, with orchestration by his brother, could be premiered in Mexico.
Pau Casals himself, for whom music was an expression of commitment to peace and the dignity of people, was able to conduct this work more than 60 times: in the USA, Mexico, France, Germany, England, Greece, Italy , Argentina, Hungary and at the UN headquarters in New York in 1963.