Label: Soundset Recordings
Item Number: SR1026
Year Recorded: 2008
Platero y yo - Elegia Andaluza
Nelson Brenes - Narrator
Frank Koonce - Guitar
Frank Koonce is an acclaimed American guitarist, known internationally as a performer, teacher, and writer. He holds degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts and from Southern Methodist University, Summa Cum Laude, and did postgraduate study as a Fulbright Scholar and performer in Italy. Mr. Koonce's creative output includes an authoritative guitar edition of Johann Sebastian Bach's complete solo lute works (Kjos Music Publishers), a collection of historical anthologies entitled "The Frank Koonce Series" (Mel Bay Publications), and individual works by modern composers (Les Producions d'OZ). He has recorded an album entitled "A Southwest Christmas" with the Phoenix Bach Choir (Soundset, SR 1005) and is featured in a live concert video with the renowned Russian composer/guitarist, Nikita Koshkin (Mel Bay 99231VX). As a founding partner of Soundset Recordings he has helped produce other classical compact discs, including the first two recordings of Koshkin and a premiere recording of Symphony No. 3 by Alan Hovhaness that was part of the theatrical trailer for Paramount's award winning film "There Will Be Blood." A Professor of Music, Mr. Koonce has taught at Arizona State University since 1978 where he was Director of an international guitar festival jointly sponsored by the Guitar Foundation of America and the American String Teachers Association in 1987. He is an active performer with recitals to his credit in Europe, Asia, Central America, and throughout the United States.
Nelson Brenes - Narrator
Nelson Brenes, with an extensive and prestigious professional carrier in radio, worked as a producer, journalist, and newscaster at the BBC of London (1964-1978). As a member of the BBC Opera Club, he was the principal, as a baritone, in André Messager's comic opera Véronique. In 1985 he travelled to Washington DC to work at the Voice of America. A few years later, he was appointed as General Director of the Costa Rican National Radio and Television System by the President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Dr. Oscar Arias. Mr. Brenes has taken part in musical productions such as Gobierno de Alcoba by Costa Rican composer Carlos Castro, and the Three Penny Opera by Kurt Weill. He has narrated poems and short stories in the National Theatre, the National Auditorium, and the Melico Salazar Theatre. Furthermore, he has narrated Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat and Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, conducted respectively by the Americans Gerald Brown and Irwin Hoffman, and the Chilean Agustin Cullel. With American guitarist Frank Koonce, he performed Platero y yo in the National Theatre and other private halls in Costa Rica, as well as in the VIII International Guitar Festival in Velez, Malaga, Spain, in 1999, a performance praised by the internationally acclaimed Venezuelan guitarist Alirio Diaz. He has produced CDs of poetry by Garcia Lorca, with music by Roberto Viquez, and by Costa Rican Poet Jorge Debravo, with music by Carlos and Jose Castro. Currently, he is working on a national audio book-recording project of novels and short stories, sponsored by the Education and Culture Ministries of Costa Rica.
Platero and I is a captivating book of prose, the crowning achievement of Nobel Prize-winning writer Juan Ramón Jiménez. Subtitled 'Andalusian elegy,' it is a reflection of the experiences of Jiménez and Platero (from 'plata y oro'), a little donkey to whom the poet confided his thoughts, feelings, and observations about daily life in his village of Moguer, Spain, at the turn of the twentieth century.
Twenty-eight of the verses from Platero y yo were set to music for classical guitar in 1960 by the Italian-born American composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Soon afterwards, Andrés Segovia recorded ten of them without narration, since much of the musical score sounds complete by itself. Both the music and the text, independent of one another, are profoundly expressive and moving; but together they become a true masterpiece. This recording features 17 selections from Platero y yo performed by narrator Nelson Brenes and guitarist Frank Koonce.
Producer: Frank Koonce
Co-producer: Nelson Brenes
Recording and editing: Todd Hallawell and Eduardo Ortiz Monestel.
Mastering: Ben Taylor
Art and design: Leanne Koonce
The cover artwork was adapted and colorized from a nineteenth-century photograph by T.H. Lindsey. The booklet illustrations are by Maud and Miska Petersham (1922).
Â© 2008, Frank Koonce and Nelson Brenes
Â© English translation: 2008, Frank Koonce
Â© Music: 1973, Edizioni Musicali Bérben
All rights reserved.
Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958) was born in the Andalusian town of Moguer. He wrote over twenty-five volumes of poetry, including Platero and I (1907-1916), the best known of his prose works. The Spanish Civil War forced Jiménez and his wife, Zenobia, to flee their homeland in 1936. After spending time in the United States and Cuba, the couple made their final home in Puerto Rico. Jiménez received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1956, three davs before his wife's death. Heartbroken by her passing and being in poor health, he died two years later.
The first complete edition of Platero and I appeared in 1917. Earlier, an abridged edition of selected verses had been published for children, for which Jiménez notes:
Some people believe that I wrote Platero y yo for children, that this is a book for children. No. In 1913, the editor of La Lectura, who knew that I was writing this book, asked me to advance a few of its most idyllic pages for its 'youth series.' Then, changing my idea momentarily, 1 wrote this prologue:
A NOTE TO THOSE GROWNUPS WHO
READ THIS BOOK TO CHILDREN
This short book, in which joy and sadness are twins, like the ears of Platero, was written for... I don't know for whom!... for whomever lyric poets write... Now that it goes to the children, I do not add nor remove a single comma. That's it!
'Wherever there are children' says Novalis, 'there exists a Golden Age.' Since it is within this Golden Age, which is like a spiritual island fallen from the sky, that the heart of the poet walks and finds so much to his liking, that his greatest desire would be to never leave.
Island of grace, of freshness and of happiness, Golden Age of the children: I always found you in my life, sea of mourning; let your breeze lend me its lyre, high, and, at times, without reason, like the trill of the lark in the white sun of the dawn!
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) spent his youth in Florence, Italy, where he attended the Cherubini Royal Conservatory of Music and earned degrees in piano and in Composition. He became widely known in Europe during the 1920s as a concert pianist and composer. In 1939, because of the emergence of Fascism in Italy and Mussolini's anti-Semitic policies he immigrated to the United States, settling in California after a two-year Stay in New York.
A highly skilled and prolific composer, Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote in almost every musical form. His most celebrated works include the opera La Mandragola, overtures to twelve plays by Shakespeare (many of whose sonnets and poems he set to music), and two Shakespearian operas The Merchant of Venice and All's Well that Ends Well. He also wrote solos, concertos, and chamber music for a variety of instruments, over 200 songs, and over 300 scores for the motion picture industry, among them Gaslight, And Then There Were None, The Loves of Carmen, The Yearling, and The Mask of the Avenger.
Castelnuovo-Tedesco's students include noted composers Andre Previn, Henry Mancini, and Jerry Goldsmith, and guitarist Ronald Purcell, who provides us with this personal testimonial:
With an uncanny sense of history, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco aligned himself with oral traditions, famous painters, and literary masterpieces, and he created musical moods evoking the emotional content of any text or graphic artwork. His compositional style is so heterogeneous that one hears in his works all musical styles that have come down through the ages. Platero and I is an excellent example of this symbiotic relationship between the composer and the story woven by Juan Ramón Jiménez. Castelnuovo-Tedesco's works are refreshing, eloquent, and sing the 'Song of Songs', and will continue to please audiences for generations to come.
Label: Soundset Recordings
Item Number: SR1026
Year Recorded: 2008
A tender and moving account of the life of Nobel Laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez and a little donkey named Platero, in southern Spain at the turn of the twentieth century. Set to music for guitar and narration by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Recorded in Spanish, with the printed text in Spanish and English.