Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Primary sources of music for Classical Guitar and related instruments, research studies, biographies, links, etc.
User avatar
Stephen Kenyon
Teacher
Posts: 2904
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:26 am
Location: Dorchester, Dorset, England

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:12 am

If forced to come down one side or the other I'd have to say no it doesn't sound authentic. Bits of it sound like a transcription.
I doubt we'll ever know for sure.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)
Simon Ambridge 'Hauser' (2018)

amade
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:39 pm
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by amade » Sat Sep 15, 2018 3:20 pm

Unless we find Tárrega's autograph manuscript, we will never have conclusive proof that he composed this piece. But we should recall how musicology has amply demonstrated that stylistic analysis is not a reliable means to determine authenticity if aspects such as harmony, rhythm, texture and melody are consistent with the period in question. In this case, all those elements are consistent with the period and no aspect here that would preclude Tárrega as the composer. So if some subtle aspect does not remind us of other pieces by the composer, it should not undermine Tárrega's authorship. There have been famous frauds (Haydn's music for example) that stylistically matched Haydn's authentic music and initially convinced many "experts." Moreover, the interpretation of the major section by Señor Huedo may be off the mark. I agree that we each need to review the evidence and especially the original manuscript before coming to a conclusion. I would also want to investigate the other music manuscripts in this collection. Perhaps we can identify the scribe or find valuable evidence. I read somewhere that the edition will include a facsimile of the original source, which is good news.

I would not rule out the possibility that this could be an arrangement by Tárrega of a piece by another composer. There exist a number of such arrangements in which Tárrega did not give the original composer.

Some research has already been done. There is evidence that the dedicatee of the manuscript had direct connections to Tárrega (see the first entry in this thread). The owner of the source was a guitar player in a place and time to make it almost certain that it was copied from a contemporary source. So we can ask this - what other composer around 1900 was writing pieces like this for guitar? I don't know of any. And what would be the incentive to write a false attribution to Tárrega? I can't think of any. At this time Tárrega was not exactly a gold mine for publishers (correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Tárrega's first printed music by Vidal, Llimona i Baceta appeared in 1902). So knowing what we do now, I would think it is possible that musicologists with experience in authenticating newly-discovered music would end up endorsing the use of the locution "Attributed to Francesco Tárrega" as the listed composer. We will indeed see.

User avatar
pogmoor
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9793
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 10:55 am
Location: Oxfordshire, UK

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by pogmoor » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:59 pm

It's certainly an enjoyable piece of music and I'm willing to believe it might be by Tarrega. However the tremolo passage at the end arouses my suspicions. The piece would sound perfectly complete without it, so I wonder whether the composer wrote it as a pastiche, thinking that (as Tarrega is known for a particularly brilliant tremolo piece) a tremolo passage would enhance it's apparent authority.
Eric from GuitarLoot
Renaissance and Baroque freak; classical guitars by Lester Backshall (2008), Ramirez (Guitarra del Tiempo 2017),
Yamaha (SLG 130NW silent classical guitar 2014).

Chris Delisa
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:56 am
Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by Chris Delisa » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:36 pm

One of the thoughts I've had since listening to the whole thing yesterday is that it almost sounds as if Tarrega wrote the beginning and then another guitarist found the manuscript and finished it. That's just a crazy thought, and maybe it's because I've listened to the beginning of the piece so many times in the past 6 months. But as pogmoor very well worded, the tremolo seemed suspicious. Kind of out of place. However, the passages before the tremolo are brilliant. Like how smoothly it transitions back to e minor. And the counterpoint that utilizes the motif from the beginning.

Amade said it best, how the content of the composition doesn't verify the authenticity. Tarrega made so many transcriptions and arrangements that almost anything is on the table for something he'd write. Like that major section in the middle - it is a Spanish serenade, so he could've transcribed some simple folk music. Then again, a follower of his could've copied his style.

If it is a copy, there must be an original manuscript. That's the only way to know for sure.

amade
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:39 pm
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by amade » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:00 pm

Are there hidden assumptions in the critiques of this piece? The doubters base their misgivings on the fact that the "inferior" segments they point out are not what they expect from Tárrega, based on the other pieces they know by Tárrega. But why assume that Tárrega would not surprise us with new and different aspects in his music? And why assume that Tárrega's music must closely resemble the music of Tárrega that we already know? And why assume that Tárrega would not compose passages that we might deem as less that top quality Tárrega? If one reviews the entire corpus of Tárrega's music (using the Soneto edition for example), one comes to the conclusion that Tárrega had a fairly wide range within 19th-century style, and like most composers, the quality and substance of his pieces varied considerably.

Chris Delisa
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:56 am
Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by Chris Delisa » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:38 pm

True. Anything's on the table, especially considering the wide variety of music he transcribed, including popular tunes that he'd play on the street. Speaking of Soneto, I wonder what Melchor Rodríguez García would think of all of this.

amade
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:39 pm
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by amade » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:56 pm

I wondered as well. Unfortunately, Melchor Rodríguez has retired and is no longer available for comment. I was in contact recently with his son Enrique, a professional cellist who operates the commercial aspects of Soneto Ediciones. But he has very little direct knowledge of his father's work on Tárrega.

User avatar
Stephen Kenyon
Teacher
Posts: 2904
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:26 am
Location: Dorchester, Dorset, England

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:13 pm

amade wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:00 pm
... The doubters base their misgivings on the fact that the "inferior" segments they point out are not what they expect from Tárrega, based on the other pieces they know by Tárrega....
Some may do so; for the record, that would not include me. The whole thing just sounds a bit wrong, is all. All your other points I agree wit entirely, in principle.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)
Simon Ambridge 'Hauser' (2018)

amade
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:39 pm
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by amade » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:37 pm

Studies have demonstrated that negative aesthetic judgments are often rendered for pieces with uncertain attribution. The judgments change once a piece becomes authenticated. And vice-versa. For an example, see John Spitzer's article "Musical Attribution and Critical Judgment: The Rise and Fall of the Sinfonia Concertante for Winds, K. 279b," Journal of Musicology 5 (1987), 319-47.

2lost2find
Posts: 404
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:04 am

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by 2lost2find » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:19 pm

I think it's a great piece... I mean a really great piece, although I haven't made up my mind about the tremolo part. As others have stated, it feels tacked on and a little out of context. Is it Tarrega? I'm not sold. there are a few different parts that scream out to me that someone is going out of his way to QUOTE Tarrega. Never mind; I still think it's a killer piece of music.

User avatar
Mark Clifton-Gaultier
Posts: 1878
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: England

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:23 am

Stephen Kenyon wrote:If forced to come down one side or the other I'd have to say no it doesn't sound authentic.
Although I've been aware of the work for some time I have only just got around to listening to this - my immediate impression is that it is not the work of Tárrega. If I had to make a guess I would suggest that it has many of the characteristics of Arcas' writing when in folkloric mode.

The recording is (to be polite) less than sensitive to the music - almost trying too hard to give a flavour of Tárrega rather than letting the work speak for itself.
amade wrote:The title page clearly states the piece is by Tárrega.
This indicates so very little.

As we know, lots of pieces were erroneously attributed to Tárrega through copying - not least by his close associates and pupils. One such, the "Gran Jota" referenced as a Tárrega composition in the original article, is clearly copied from Arcas which blatant disregard by the author immediately raises one's suspicions over the critical rigour brought to bear on the musical (as opposed to biographical) investigation.

No doubt the process towards publication will, nevertheless, unearth interesting and useful information - I'm certainly looking forward to receiving, reading and playing it.
amade wrote:Studies have demonstrated that negative aesthetic judgments are often rendered for pieces with uncertain attribution. The judgments change once a piece becomes authenticated. And vice-versa.
I try not to be unduly influenced by such matters. After all, "official" judgements (negative or positive) by even the supposed most worthy are sometimes applied according to criteria beyond the mere academic.

Chris Delisa
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:56 am
Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by Chris Delisa » Sat Sep 22, 2018 4:17 pm

Gran Jota wasn't just copied from Arcas. I have the Arcas score and it's much shorter. Tarrega's jota incorporates passages from work by Jose Vinas and Luis de Soria as well. The question is how much of it is original?

IF the present work is by Tarrega, the question is also how much of it is original? Knowing Tarrega, he could've used fragments of other pieces like he did in Gran Jota.

User avatar
Stephen Kenyon
Teacher
Posts: 2904
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:26 am
Location: Dorchester, Dorset, England

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:27 am

Chris Delisa wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 4:17 pm
Gran Jota wasn't just copied from Arcas. I have the Arcas score and it's much shorter. Tarrega's jota incorporates passages from work by Jose Vinas and Luis de Soria as well. The question is how much of it is original
Is there do we know an online comparison study of this please?
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)
Simon Ambridge 'Hauser' (2018)

Chris Delisa
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:56 am
Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by Chris Delisa » Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:35 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:27 am
Chris Delisa wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 4:17 pm
Gran Jota wasn't just copied from Arcas. I have the Arcas score and it's much shorter. Tarrega's jota incorporates passages from work by Jose Vinas and Luis de Soria as well. The question is how much of it is original
Is there do we know an online comparison study of this please?
I haven't been able to find one. But I do know that the intro of Gran Jota was taken from Recuerdos de Palma by Jose Vinas. And the Arcas version is only 4 pages. I'm going to compare the Arcas one to the Luis de Soria version. Maybe I'll write an article on it.

SleepyheadRooster
Posts: 249
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:47 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Tárrega's newly-discovered 'Serenata Española'

Post by SleepyheadRooster » Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:47 pm

Does the piece survive as a piece of music if we find it isn’t Tarrega? If we find it was an imitation? Will people perform it because it is Tarrega or because it’s music worthy of performance? I imagine some sort of absolute proof of authenticity would give birth to a mini-celebration and some premiere concerts?

I think this is a beautiful piece of music. I’m definitely not trying to stir the pot here, and I have no opinion as to its authenticity because I just don’t have that expertise - though I am interested. Just curious.
Last edited by SleepyheadRooster on Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Best,
Chuck

Return to “Research and primary sources”