Violin Concerto

For the 2023 competition, entrants were required to compose a short work for violin and strings; after the judging committee had short listed three such pieces, they were performed live and the winner chosen: Isidro Albareal, who won for the second time!

Malacuesta: Concerto in E minor

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  • Description

"Memories of Malacuesta" was inspired by some stories from my childhood and adolescence, spent with my dad at our estate called Malacuesta ("Bad Slope" in English). Despite its name – the uphill drive to get there is terrifying – it is a wonderful and wild place in the middle of nowhere that has given us a lot of great moments and adventures.

It is cast in the form of a typical baroque concerto for violin and strings in three movements.

The first, called "Storms in the countryside", is a collection of anecdotes that were part of the idiosyncrasy of the place, such as getting trapped in the house when the river that crosses the land flooded after heavy rain, having to repair a water pump that was full of wasps, climbing up and down the hill, and falling, or the beautiful nights, spent sleeping on the roof, listening to owls, crickets, and nightingales.

In "Sunsets and evenings", the second movement, I tried to capture an atmosphere that conveys the feeling of watching the sun sinking beyond the horizon, sitting on a bench that we used specially for this purpose. After the sunset, we used to sit in front of the chimney, and that moment always had a very special vibe. I drew that specific feeling by writing a calm melody for the solo violin, a pedal point for the violas, and a mixed effect of spiccato and col legno for the violins, imitating the crackling of the fire.

The third movement, "The wild boar hunt", is written more narratively. Using a fugal form, I painted the image of a day spent chasing and hunting a plague of boars that had sneaked onto our land, destroying everything. The theme was inspired by their grunts, and the story covers from the start of the hunt to the death of the boar, passing by ambushes and the baby boars escaping and seeking shelter.

This concerto is written using a Baroque language in terms of style. I am very much fond of contrapuntal textures because I love the magic that comes out of having independent lines of music that work perfectly together. I also try to write interesting parts for each instrument, so that they feel involved in the experience of the performance. As a string player, I really admire compositions written so that every part has something valuable to say.

This music is dedicated to my father, Jesús Albarreal, whom I have so much to thank for.

Performing materials are available.

Click HERE to see the openings of the three movements. The score actually includes an alternative version of the central movement with two independent viola parts.