GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => General Classical Music Discussion => Topic started by: ritter on May 24, 2021, 06:22:02 AM

Title: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: ritter on May 24, 2021, 06:22:02 AM
Cristóbal Halffter, arguably the most distinguished member of the  Generación del 51 (a loose grouping of Spanish composers who finished their conservatoire studies around 1951, and that included Luis de Pablo, Ramón Barce, and many more), died yesterday aged 91 in his home in Villafranca del Bierzo (León, Northern Spain).

He was the nephew of composers Ernesto and Rodolfo Halffter, and his son Pedro Halffter has held several relevant conducting positions.

C. Halffter opened Spanish musical life to the European post-WWII avant-garde, and had many successes not only in Spain but abroad (particularly in Germany). He started with a typical “localist” style, but soon embraced a much more cosmopolitan style—including electronics— and his late style is characterised by complex textures (his orchestral works are very richly scored), often interspersed with quotations of music from the past. He wrote three operas (Don Quijote, Lázaro, and Schachnovelle), numerous choral and vocal works, an impressive cycle of string quartets, film music...

I have enjoyed his music for more than 30 years now, and could shake his hand and exchange some words with him after the world première of his String Quartet No. 8 here in Madrid some years ago.

A work that brought him some notoriety among the general public was his Preludio para Madrid ‘92,  commissioned by the Madrid regional government on the occasion of the city being chosen as “European cultural capital” in 1992. It’s an expansion and orchestration (with chorus—they only sing the words “pacem, justitiam, libertatem”) of Padre Antonio Soler’s famous Fandango.

https://www.youtube.com/v/uucr368goI0

His most performed work is undoubtedly Tiento del primer tono y batalla imperial, a commission by Paul Sacher which is a “confrontation” with the music of 16th and 17th century Spanish composers Cabezón and Cabanilles.

https://www.youtube.com/v/VKyKWUMYJ9c

A great composer, and one of the leading figures in Spanish musical life in the second half of the 20th century. Rest in peace...
Title: Re: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: Brewski on May 24, 2021, 06:24:35 AM
Just saw this awhile ago, very sad. (But a very long and productive life is nothing to regret.)

Thanks for posting these, since I am more familiar with his reputation than his work. How great that you got to meet him!

--Bruce
Title: Re: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: ritter on May 25, 2021, 10:49:46 AM
Just saw this awhile ago, very sad. (But a very long and productive life is nothing to regret.)

Thanks for posting these, since I am more familiar with his reputation than his work. How great that you got to meet him!

--Bruce
Do explore his music, Bruce, it’s really worth it. The two pieces I posted are among the most approachable, based as they are on “old” music, but no less impressive because of that.

Here’s the obituary from his publishers, Universal Edition: https://www.universaledition.com/news/cristobal-halffter-1930-2021
Title: Re: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: Szykneij on May 25, 2021, 11:19:24 AM
The "Tiento" piece is gorgeous. Too bad people who can't keep from coughing still come to the concert hall. Any recommendation on what CD to buy? Looks like Amazon lists three.
Title: Re: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: ritter on May 25, 2021, 11:32:44 AM
The "Tiento" piece is gorgeous. Too bad people who can't keep from coughing still come to the concert hall. Any recommendation on what CD to buy? Looks like Amazon lists three.
The Rozhdestvensky was the only version available on CD for a while, but isn’t very polished, I’m afraid.

This one, conducted by the composer, is my favourite (but seems to be OOP and hard to find):

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61vtDEJsQ%2BL._SX522_.jpg)

Regards,
Title: Re: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: Szykneij on May 25, 2021, 03:30:17 PM
The Rozhdestvensky was the only version available on CD for a while, but isn’t very polished, I’m afraid.

This one, conducted by the composer, is my favourite (but seems to be OOP and hard to find):



Regards,

Looks that way. There's a used copy on Ebay listed at $32, and appears to be one available new on Amazon for $19.00.

Thanks -

Tony
Title: Re: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: Mandryka on May 25, 2021, 07:55:58 PM
Is there any small scale music apart from the quartets? Or is it all orchestral! I quite like the quartets and I’d quite like to hear more,  but I’m not so interested in symphonies, concertos at the moment.
Title: Re: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: ritter on May 25, 2021, 11:30:52 PM
Is there any small scale music apart from the quartets? Or is it all orchestral! I quite like the quartets and I’d quite like to hear more,  but I’m not so interested in symphonies, concertos at the moment.
Yes, there certainly is.

This CD stands out:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61ZEvfyQdeL._SL1200_.jpg)(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71AfmgQfREL._SL1200_.jpg)
You'd have a duplication of the SQ No. 7 (IIRC, you have the two Arditti Quartet CDs), but Endechas... and Canciones de al-Ándalus are both superb examples of Halffter's Spätsil. The latter actually is the original version of the even numbered songs of Siete cantos de España I listened to last night.

This CD (which I posted in the WAYLTN thread last night as well) has two earlier, more "orthodox avant-garde" works (Antiphonismoi and Oda...), and a later one (the Concerto for Flute and String Sextet) which is closer to--but not fully a part of-- the composer's final period, where he allies avant-garde techniques with music of the past. It's not easy to find, though.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71Si-MI1mnL._SL1412_.jpg)(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71FPXtfLLNL._SL1500_.jpg)
 
And, by the way, as I've seen you shown interest in Walter Zimmermann's music--which is unknown to me--as of late, Halffter conducts his Ländler-Topographien on a 3 CD set (titled Lokale Musik) on the Mode label (https://www.discogs.com/es/Walter-Zimmermann-Lokale-Musik/release/14210776).

Title: Re: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: Mandryka on May 26, 2021, 01:55:12 AM
Ah that explains why Lokale Musik came up when I searched for Halffter this morning on Qobuz! I wonder if he created it at Darmstadt -- apparently it caused quite a kerfuffle there.

Title: Re: R.I.P. Cristóbal Halffter (24 March 1930 - 23 May 2021)
Post by: ritter on May 26, 2021, 03:04:26 AM
And as a piece of trivia, this is Halffter's home in Villafranca del Bierzo:

(https://www.lanuevacronica.com/imagenes/articulos/www-castillo-villafranca-del-bierzo.jpg)  (https://apartamentoselcamino.com/Media/apartamentoselcamino/_Profiles/6d529a16/aab2396c/2.jpg?v=636698523112412535)

It’s not that composers are that well paid here in Spain  ;). Halffter's wife, the pianist Maria Manuela--"Marita"--Caro (1932-2017), had inherited the castle from her aristocratic family.