Memory and Roots (April 1, 2013)
Written by Gulbenkian Foundation Edition
Published by Gulbenkian Foundation Orchestra 50th Anniversary Edition
Joana Carneiro conducts the European premiere of “Alfama” by Andreia Pinto-Correia, in a concert that closes with Uri Caine, desconstructing Beethoven.
The issue of memory is what connects the Triptych, a work that Andreia Pinto Correia has been developing since 2010, when she wrote its first section, Elegia a Al-Mu’tamid. One year later, Xántara was written, the title referring to the name of the town Sintra during the middle Ages. We now await for the European premiere of Alfama, a Fromm Music Foundation Award Commission, written for the Berkeley Symphony and the Gulbenkian Foundation Orchestras. Although the three works could be performed independently they are “united by the idea of memory, by its use of similar harmonies and by gestures that are derived from each other and explored throughout the work”, the composer explains. Another common factor is the relationship of these pieces with the Al-Andaluz. Alfama, the last work to be written, is the central panel of the Triptych. The title, literally translated as “baths” or “place of waters”, evokes one of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods. Andreia explains how the piece was developed: “ The work is built upon blocks of sound that are superimposed on each other, mostly at different speeds. The string section, representing water, is always present, connecting everything else. These are layers of history that are related by common elements. Certain instruments that emerge only to submerge once again.” Alfama is divided into two parts, “ the final being a mirror image of the beginning”, similarly the beginning of Alfama is an echo of Elegia a Al-Mu’tamid’s, the piece that precedes it.
To Andreia Pinto Correia, who has been based in the United States for the past twelve years, but with a strong relationship to Portugal, it was important to evoke the city of Lisbon: “ When I was writing this piece, I was looking for a theme that would relate to Joana Carneiro, to whom the work is dedicated, to myself, and to the Gulbenkian Foundation. I was looking for a sort of ode to my own roots.” Although the world premiere of Alfama took place in February by the Berkeley Symphony in California with director Joana Carneiro conducting, the European premiere is wrapped in a special tint, one of affection. After all, “ it is a great honor to be acknowledged at home and to be able to share this special moment at the Gulbenkian Foundation, a place that I have been visiting since childooh, and to be with Joana and a Portuguese orchestra”. During the second half, Uri Caine will interpret his improvised piano and chamber orchestra version of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations.