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Suite Española for Harpsichord

Updated: Jul 23, 2019

Suite Española

Suite Española as heard on Elaine Funaro's CD, Dances With Harpsichords (Centaur Records, 2003)


Suite Española won first prize in the fifth Aliénor International Composition Competition for new harpsichord music. The debut performance was

presented at the winners’ recital held on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, on March 2, 2000, by harpsichordist S. Wayne Foster. The four-movement suite was inspired by the music of Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz and was written in a style accessible to a wide range of performers.

The Malagueña should be played in an improvisatory manner throughout. This movement follows the traditional “emotional song” influenced by the free style and rhythm of traditional southern Spanish folk music. Common characteristics of the malagueña are the use of 3/4 meter and the imitation of the melodic plucking of a guitar or stringed instrument.

The romanza (It.) or romance (Sp.) originated with the 14th-century poetry of Spain. This movement, like so many other Spanish-influenced instrumental works, is an imitation of the strumming of the guitar. Its simple song-like melody should be approached in a free and vocal manner. The movement is based on an ostinato pattern in the accompaniment that serves as a unifying characteristic throughout.

The dance-like Seguidillas adheres closely to the traditional Spanish form; a fast triple-meter dance with a brief introductory section using strummed or plucked chords. The frequent repetition of harmonic patterns, as well as inversions of arpeggiated chords, helps give this energetic movement the spirit of a toccata. The movement ends with the triumphant return of the baroque-like opening theme.

The tango is an Argentinian dance form, which has also been popular with Spanish composers such as Isaac Albéniz. This movement allows the performer the opportunity for much flair and a passionate approach to the recurring romantic and seductive theme. The work includes common characteristics of the tango such as a 2/4 meter and a syncopated accompaniment pattern, which help give the movement its rhythmic and dance-like feel.

Published by the FJH Music Co. (ASCAP)

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