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Erkoreka: Afrika, Kantak, Jukal, Akorda / Encinar, Et Al


Release Date: 02/10/2009 
Label:  Stradivarius   Catalog #: 33811   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gabriel Erkoreka
Conductor:  José Ramón Encinar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Madrid Community Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ERKOREKA Afrika. 1 Kantak. 2 Jukal. 3 Akorda 4 José Ramón Encinar, cond; Pedro Carneiro (mmb); 1 Michel Schmid (pic); 2 Nelleke ter Berg (gtr); 3 Iñaki Alberdi (acc); Read more class="SUPER12">4 Madrid Community O STRADIVARIUS 33811 (56:39)


Gabriel Erkoreka was born in Bilbao, Spain, in 1969. He has so far produced four works for solo instrument and orchestra, all of which are presented here. Implied, or imagined, folk music is at the heart of Erkoreka’s thought, but folkish elements are subsumed into the composer’s language, reframing them in a new sound space. The soloists act as part of textures as much as they act as foreground soloists, and it is this dialogue that enables an analogy to be made between the dynamics of solo/orchestra and that of individual/society.


The first piece, Afrika (2002), takes gestures and archetypes from African music as its basis, rather than any direct quotes (or even allusions). This results in a sort of distancing effect, especially as Erkoreka rubs various strata against each other in an effort to reflect Africa’s alienation from the rest of the world. Erkoreka utilizes hocket, rhythmic ostinato, and hemiola as expressive devices. Orchestrally, the scoring moves from strings at first, through wind and percussion, until finally they are all combined. The active solo marimba part, masterfully given here by Pedro Carneiro, is just about omnipresent. It interacts with the orchestra as well as initiating ideas of its own, and reveals a particular affinity to the txalaparta, a Basque percussion instrument made from beams of wood. The work’s final section is more reflective, asking questions rather than suggesting solutions. The present performers were entrusted with the world premiere at the 2004 Venice Biennale. There is a sense of certainty about the performance that suggests familiarity with the score, particularly on the part of Carneiro.


The word kantak is Basque for “songs,” taken in this context to refer to folk song specifically for the txistu (a type of flute played with one hand, leaving the other to play a drum). For his piece Kantak (1996), Erkoreka translates the high-pitched txistu to the piccolo and the drum to its percussion section brother and uses this as his starting point; he similarly plays with the extremes of register that is the heart of the txistu/drum combination. This piece, scored for piccolo and chamber ensemble, is one of the composer’s most popular. It won first prize in the “1996 Premio SGAE” and has been performed worldwide. Certainly the ethereal opening of Kantak , which highlights the piccolo/drum combination, makes explicit reference to the inspiring factor, while subtle orchestral contributions (high, held violin notes, clarinet slides) initially comment, then infect the opening’s timbral premise. The overall impression is of a haunting soundscape, one that seeks to question, reexamine, and reinterpret the traditional functions of a specific set of folk instruments. All credit to Michel Schmid as the agile solo piccolo.


It is flamenco that forms the basis for Jukal (2000). Nelleke ter Berg is the guitarist (the recording places the guitar very forward in the sound arena). An anvil makes reference to the carceleras subgenre of flamenco, which traditionally uses an anvil as part of its armory. The piece is tri-layered: instrumental sounds (guitar/pizzicato strings), dancing (percussion), and singing (the cantabile, pining bassoon part, here expertly played by Salvador Aragó). Jukal was performed at the ISCM World Music Days in Hong Kong. It is a strong piece of much integrity, and accordingly deserves greater currency.


The evocation of bagpipes that opens Akorda (1998–99) is obvious; the solo accordion begins as part of the overall texture before stepping forward. The piece’s title refers to a place on the Basque coast, yet Erkoreka includes other references to places, too (Scotland, Galicia, and Italy). There is a compositional conceit when the composer presents the “bagpipes” as a Renaissance organ. A canzona by Giovanni Gabrieli is referenced. Most striking, perhaps, is a pure E?-Major chord in what the composer refers to as “an extreme example of the Tierce de Picardie.”


Gabriel Erkoreka is clearly a gifted composer endowed with much imagination and a fearless aptitude for juxtaposing, and questioning, preextant musics. Do investigate. There is more Erkoreka available, but not much: Kin of 2003 for accordion and cello and Soinua (2001) for piano and accordion can both be found on Verso 2023.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1. Afrika by Gabriel Erkoreka
Conductor:  José Ramón Encinar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Madrid Community Orchestra
Written: Spain 
Notes: Composition written: Spain (2002 - 2004). 
2. Kantak by Gabriel Erkoreka
Conductor:  José Ramón Encinar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Madrid Community Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; England 
3. Jukal by Gabriel Erkoreka
Conductor:  José Ramón Encinar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Madrid Community Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Notes: Composition written: England (1999 - 2000). 
4. Akorda by Gabriel Erkoreka
Conductor:  José Ramón Encinar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Madrid Community Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Notes: Composition written: England (1998 - 1999). 

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