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Atanas Ourkouzounov : Barokanitsa for guitar and Harpsichord : Doberman – Yppan

Atanas Ourkouzounov

Doberman – Yppan: Score and separate guitar part (22, and 9 pages respectively)

This well – respected Bulgarian composer has written many dozens of works for the guitar in all its combinations, with more than 50 CDs of his music performed by other players, just to name but a few of his accolades.

This piece, which is named after the Baroque period, is in three movements, and begins with an Allegro Malicioso tempo marking of 120 crotchets a minute. Ostensibly in G Major, it begins in 11/8 time but the huge number of accidentals in all the three staves continuously shows that the key signature is to be treated with a pinch of salt. If I say that the opening four bars of solo guitar have a C#, a simultaneous A and Ab, an A#, an Eb, a Db, a Bb, and an F natural in them you will realize that this music is almost entirely atonal, or at the very least extremely dissonant. The 11 quavers are often in different groupings and as the harpsichord enters with two separate solo lines, underneath the guitar’s two voices, the four melodic ideas continue, with many cross rhythms for quite a while. Then the harpsichord part starts to build up a sequence in pairs on both hands, still rhythmically against one another while the guitar itself mirrors the keyboard’s left – hand fourths and thirds. After a momentary pause, a new idea occurs with less dissonance in its music, but this is short – lived as the coda then occurs with a rallentando, and a final G chord mixed with an Ab and C.

Rubato, quasi recitativo is the second movement’s opening instruction. At 40 crotchets a minute, the sound relies firstly on a number of note bends intermingled with semi – tonal harmonies on the guitar, and an instruction for the harpsichord to momentarily play a note on its strings. The time signatures change frequently from 13/8, to 7/8, 5/4, 5/8, 9/8, 6/8, 8/8, 4/4,4/8 and 3/ 4, so one has to be careful with the actual counting here, slow though the speed is. There is again heavy reliance on rhythmic diversity and clashing harmonies, and there are a few places where the instruments get a solo along the way.

After that short and slow movement the final Vivo is a speedy 186 crotchets a minute, with both parts mostly playing quavers .With its opening phrase in 7/8, and its middle section in 11/8, and then reverting back at the final point to 7/8 one can see that the rhythms are here not as surprising in their cross rhythms as before although the actual speed required is considerable. The opening phrase is played on the guitar and each time it enters is slightly amended so that it’s never quite the same twice .Therefore the opening phrase the second time has the A changed to an Ab, and then an A#, and so on. This playing with accidentals on phrases is something that the composer does many times. Eventually the harpsichord enters and the movement really takes off with both players mimicking the other in the shape of its phrases and so one perhaps expects a fortissimo finish, but that is not what happens. At the very end the harpsichord gradually gets less and less while the guitarist continues with the variants of the opening phrase. Then on the last 6 bars there is a repeat ad lib marking, and there the piece ends.

As I said before, this composer’s music is very dissonant, and that won’t suit all players, but if you have come across this man’s works before, then you truly know what to expect, and therefore, if you are both very good technicians you will no doubt love this extended work of his.

Chris Dumigan

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