PLA Sonata III
VILLA-LOBOS Assobio a Jato 
SANZ Jácaras
ANONYMOUS Pastoreta Ychepe Flauta 

Curated by LACO Principal Keyboard Patricia Mabee, Episode 2 explores works by Spanish Baroque composers Josep Pla and Gaspar Sanz, and 20th century Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Tonight’s Border Crossings Continued broadcast features composers from different centuries and countries, like Spain and Brazil, and includes an anonymous composer who is believed to have originated from Bolivia. LACO Principal Keyboard Patricia Mabee leads a harpsichord program that indeed crosses borders, as the name of this concert suggests. 

Not much is known about the Pla family, but we do know they were musicians and composers who probably came from Catalonia, Spain. We know that there were three brothers, although it’s not always certain which brother wrote a particular piece. Their works often just bore the name “Pla.” Josep Pla (c. 1728-1762), who was the youngest of the three brothers, was also known as “José.” He lived in Spain and in Germany during his career and composed both vocal and instrumental music. The piece on the program is one of his few surviving works. 

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) was perhaps one of the most important composers of art music to come out of Brazil in the twentieth century. He was also a conductor and multi-instrumentalist, and wrote more than two thousand pieces during his career. In his late teens and early twenties, he spent five years traveling around the Amazon to learn more about the folk music of the people. This experience had a profound effect on his art. Weaving together Brazilian folk music and elements from Western art music, Villa-Lobos forged a unique and thoroughly personal style. Assobio a Jato was composed in 1950 in New York. The name means “Jet Whistle,” which is an extended technique used on the flute (heard in the last movement of the work) that sounds like a jet. The work also features the cello, which was one of Villa-Lobos’ main instruments. 

Gaspar Sanz (c. 1640-1710) was a priest, composer, and multi-instrumentalist from Spain. He was well educated, attending the University of Salamanca, where he studied both theology and music. Some of his writings were pedagogical; he wrote three books containing repertoire for the Baroque guitar. These pieces are still taught to classical guitar students today, and Sanz’ works have helped modern musicologists and guitarists better understand performance practices of the Baroque period.

Christine Lee Gengaro, PhD