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
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.