Imitació del foc (Imitation of fire)
Duration (in minutes): 12'39;
Difficulty: High (professional)
Category: solo voice(s) with piano
Publisher: Hidden Oaks Music Co.
Description: Imitació del Foc (Imitation of fire) was commissioned by tenor, Isai Jess Munoz, to be premiered on March 19 at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in a program titled “Viva Catalunya.” Additional concerts will be presented throughout the Spring of 2018, and it will be recorded on CD in August of 2018, along other music by Catalonian composers.
Imitació del foc is a song cycle for tenor and piano based on four poems in Catalan by Bartomeu Rosselló-Pòrcel (1913-1938), a Spanish Balearic poet, who wrote in Catalan. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. He has a brief oeuvre but dense. His mature work, Imitation of fire (1938) turns him into the first Mallorcan poet who fully belongs to the twentieth century. Once the influence of the Mallorcan School has been overcome, the poetics of this last book are influenced by the generation of 1927, as well as by the avant-garde and specifically surrealism. There are also echoes of his interest in Spanish Baroque literature, along with a neo-populism similar to that of García Lorca or Rafael Alberti.
In Rosselló-Pòrcel work is notable the presence of the symbol of fire, and related words, such as fire, flame, fire, ash, charcoal burning and bonfires. The use of this symbol is not purely ornamental, but it reveals a deeper sense. The fire for Roselló is purification, the struggle of opposites, light, life, rise, movement and perpetual change, immateriality and mystery. This vision of the fire connects Rosselló-Porcell directly with a pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus, who found in fire an overcoming of all processes of change that view reality.
The four poems selected in this song-cycle come from the collection Imitacio del foc and Quadern de sonets (an earlier work).
I. Inici de campana (Bells start tolling) from Quadern de sonets, written in 1934
This opening piece starts brilliantlly with tolling bell-like sounds calling for the parishioners. The spiritual symbol of church bells can be associated with the creative power, poetry and its followers. Rossello’s poem describes the poet in the evening hearing church bells and settlying at dusk into his home as a metaphor for internal search.
II. Escolto la secreta...(I listen to the secret...) from Imitacio del Foc, Arbre de Flames). In this poem the poet explores the relation between himself and death when he “listens attentively to the secret harmony of the air and the ardor that trembles from great free waters.” The music is intimate and personal evoking the inner life and reflections of the poet.
III. Pluja brodada (Embroidered rain) from Imitacio del foc, Fira encesa, written in 1938, is a poem in which the poet extols and personifies the rain, a natural element, in a precious manner, first reminding us of the sound of rain in a graphic manner. At the beginning of the poem the rain ‘dances’ joyously but little by little takes on a restless character. The music evokes the sound and moods of the rain; the tímbric sound on the rain is portrayed by sparkling arpeggios in the higher register of the piano.
IV. Ardent himne (Ardent hymn) from Imitacio del foc, Arbre de Flames, written in 1938. This poem states the dichotomy between the poet and the angel. The text is imbued with action and extraordinarily dynamic power, with fire contrasting with angels (‘homes alats’) and the night, portraying a vision of the world as a fight between contrary and opposite forces that need each other to exist.