NEW ALBUM RELEASE
January 8, 2021
Catalan Art Songs
of the XX and XXI Centuries
Isaí Jess Muñoz and pianist Oksana Glouchko
Available soon on all major platforms.
As compared to the vast reference material devoted to the history and analyses of North American and other Central European classical song literature, little scholarly attention has been devoted to the art songs of Catalonia, the autonomous community in Spain. The repressive effects of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorial ban on this region’s native language, Catalan, contributed to scarce diffusion of its classical song literature abroad. General public knowledge of Catalan art song stems primarily from the extant recordings of a few internationally revered native singers such as Victoria de los Ángeles and Montserrat Caballé. Despite the work of these extraordinary artists to champion the endangered music of their homeland, much work remains in order to achieve a deeper understanding of this music internationally. Our recording aims to illuminate this nationalistic genre—its history and its style—and also provide a context for understanding the performance practice, so that Catalan art song of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries may continue to gain recognition.
Spain’s landscape is vast, and Catalonia—joined by Castile, Andalusia, Galicia and the Basque country—enjoys its own customs and style. Indeed, Catalan art song has a distinctive musical voice and heritage, strongly influenced by its exchange of ideas on Impressionism and Neoclassicism with France. It’s important to note that areas of the French département of the Pyrénées-Orientales, recognized as Catalogne Nord (Northern Catalonia), was once part of the former Principality of Catalonia. Although ceded to France by Spain (1659), this region still retains much of its Catalan culture. The Catalan language is also spoken in the Principality of Andorra in Alghero, Italy, and other regions of the world.
Since 2010, concerts of Catalan art songs presented by the formidable duo of Isaí Jess Muñoz and Oksana Glouchko have generated overwhelming responses from audiences eager to hear more of this fascinating repertoire. Through these encouraging interactions, they were inspired to create this audio recording. History illustrates that something emerges from the human compulsions to look and record, to contemplate, even as we mourn. Much like the civil unrest and physical displacement endured by Catalonian artists, such as Frederic Mompou, Ricard Lamote de Grignon, and many contemporaries, troubled times have been inherent in many compelling artistic journeys; specifically, the frustration of seeing one's hopes and hard work either halted or not fully realized. For these artists, however, creating was an attempt to break free from the constraints of their present state, to draw on what they had already experienced, and to gain understanding of what still lay beyond the known and the present, in order to make peace and a positive difference. Beyond the cry for love of country, or amorous or fraternal affection, the music and poetry contained herein serves as compelling artifacts of human longing and endurance.