“Una música de profunda carga poética, de extrema delicadeza, que explota lo más sutil del material utilizado”
“Beautiful harmonies and subtle spectral blends of colour. I love the use of silence combined with the delicacy of sound which hardly disturbs it. Magical! One holds one’s breath enraptured!”
Works for ensemble
for flute/piccolo, Bb clarinet/bass clarinet, harp, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano and two percussionists. 14:42
for flute/piccolo, Bb clarinet, horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, piano and 2 percussionists. 12:50
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(Available from 15th November 2019)
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The magnetism of Vent del capvespre (evening wind) captivates the listener from the start. Each note, each gesture demands a form of listening that is free of thought, an experience more physical than intellectual; leading one to think of Goethe’s statement: “The more inaccessible a work of art is to our rational judgement, the more sublime it is.”
It is not a study in the control of time or architectural form, nor a calculated development of discourse: it is a clear observation of the exact instant – neither before nor after – in which a sound is born, grows and is extinguished. The alchemy of sounds, placed with millimetric precision, goes beyond the perception of time to anchor itself in a place of deep and expansive horizons, a landscape that is inaccessible to reason, a face-to-face encounter with bright, vibrant harmonies.
Josep Maria Guix’s particular manner of composition can be defined as sculpting the work with love, voiding the sound material rather than filling it; declaring itself explicitly at the beginning of Vent del capvespre. The dense layer of indeterminate sound is not opposed to the flute melody but, rather, surrounds it to form a single unity: is as if the unpolished texture were the fertile terrain in which the gestation and miraculous birth of motifs and resonant chords originate, metaphor for an organism with a life of its own.
The preference for delicate expression is evident in the indications in the score —very soft, almost inaudible, quiet motion— and the work’s dynamics, dominated by pianissimo. The result: an apparent contradiction between the immobility of the harmony and the activity of internal voices, which creates an energetic, vigorous stasis, not unlike Antoine Brumel’s mass Et ecce terrae motus, so beloved by the composer.
Echo is a recurring phenomenon in the composer’s catalogue and, with a display of prodigious skill, occurs at the start of the third movement, where a morphing of timbres connects the piccolo’s penetrating tone to the crotales rubbed with the violin bow. The beauty of this passage can only be explained by a total separation from the ego, an abandonment of all mental speculation, and by the impeccable skill of sculpting time with sound. Jardín seco (dry garden), too, closes with a sliding echo of flute and clarinet, allegory of the gust of wind that ruffles dead leaves in a poem by Matsuo Basho.
Fernando Zóbel, a painter who is sympathetic to Josep Maria Guix’s diffuse and diaphanous outlines, comments in his introductory course on contemporary painting that painting is a visual language, in which the first thing one must do is give observation the opportunity to contemplate reality, not to glance over the surface but to wait with patience and an attitude of openness so that the work reveals its essence to us. In the work that provides the title, Jardín seco, different natural phenomenon of a sonorous nature —water, the bell, wind— and non-sonorous nature —the fall of a maple leaf that shows alternatively one face and then the other, the force of the sun above the willows— are illustrated with such precision that words would be excessive.
Some examples: the space suggested by the two descending piano chords losing themselves in the distance, the Zen bells which ring ceremoniously, criss-crossing with the liquid sounds of the waterphone —a curious percussion instrument recently invented and adopted by the composer, for whom research into colour is of the utmost importance—, the simple melodies of the chords which accumulate heterophonically, tracing various layers of circles, creating something rich and complex out of what was, to begin with, simple.
The characteristic element known as wind chimes effect, a kaleidoscope of trembling notes on instruments such as the piano and harp, conceals a special charm. Physically, a bond exists between the chance nature of the clapper and the slowing down of white sound, a substratum of all audible frequencies. Close listening to the partial notes allows them to be gradually assimilated, like the absorption of the sound of the sea’s waves, or of a breeze through the branches of pine trees. Once again, it is a direct evocation of nature.
Beauty, the desired ideal, is inalienable for Josep Maria Guix, and in its pursuit he hones all the techniques and materials at his disposal: research into timbre through analysis of the acoustic spectrum, stand-out gestural innovations —wind chimes effect, delay, heart beat effect—, organically blurred outlines, distribution of sound in real and virtual space, and a non-discursive form that begins and ends in itself, as if each note were unique and lovingly sculpted.
These scores, subject to authors copyright, are available for study. In case you want to perform the pieces, please contact the composer: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Guix es revela un mestre del timbre, de l’exploració de la textura instrumental, no per la via de massiva superposició d’instruments, sinó per l’estudi de les capacitats expressives de cadascun dels instruments en el els seus diversos registres. Això no obstant, lluny de ser un monòleg serial, els instruments dialoguen, s’emmirallen en un eco meticulosament mesurat. ” Read more.