Friday, March 07, 2014

CCC 095 - Juan Colomer

This week the CCC focuses on Spanish composer Juan J. Colomer. Colomer is well-regarded as both a composer and orchestrator, and he's won several awards for his compositions. Colomer writes with the musical traditions and sounds of his native country. This, in part, influences his harmonic choices which give his works a strong tonal foundation.

The ballet “Sorolla” was commissioned by the National Ballet of Spain. Each movement depicts a traditional dance of Spain (based on a set of paintings) set in contemporary language. The excerpt below shows how effectively Colomer is able to blend both traditional and classical instruments to create exciting and authentic-sounding Spanish music.

The Cineto volando Waltz also has a strong Spanish flavor. Colomer's orchestration makes the most of the appealing melody.


Fierabrass is a kind of off-kilter work for brass ensemble. The characteristic flourishes and melodic turns of Spanish traditional music are still present, but Colomer's piece twists and turns in unexpected ways, keeping the listener a little off balance. It also keeps the Spanish gestures sounding fresh and inventive.

Colomer also writes for film. His score to "The Lascivious Devout" shows a different side of the composer. While still quite tonal, Spanish gestures aren't in the forefront. Instead, Colomer uses chromatic steps in his melodies and half-step relations to give the music a strong emotional intensity.


Why Colomer isn't programmed more often in this country is a mystery to me. He's written several orchestral works, as well as a good number of chamber music as well. Audiences used to Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnole" and Cahbrier's "Espana" should find plenty to relate to in Colomer's music. Juan Colomer's music is skillfully written, and retains the fire and energy of traditional Spanish music, without devolving into cliche.

Recommended Recordings

Pasion Espanola

Gala Lirica

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