Sonatina CD Booklet
In 1995, a new guitar CD, in which Manuel Babiloni played works by Falla, Asencio, Tárrega, Fortea, Turina and García Gómez, was available. I received it to write a review for the magazine Amadeus. I didn’t know Manuel Babiloni either personally or as a guitar player; in fact, I had never heard about him.
As soon as I listened to that CD I realized I was in front of one of the best guitar players that I had ever heard, and other music critics and reviewers agreed with me. But Babiloni, after listening to that great CD, seemed to me to be much more than a simple guitarist. Babiloni is a genuine musician. He lets his art fly from his guitar. The instrument is just a medium for him. It is the tool with which he shares his exquisite musicality with us.
The guitar is, really a wonderful instrument (I cannot play the guitar, but I am deeply in love with it), and the way he makes the guitar sound captivates everyone, as well as the works he performs which reach a vital dimension. This is the result of his profound esteem for what he does, for what he has in his hands, an expression of his sensibility and his vitality.
I have repeated two words, vital and vitality, which stem from the same root in the same sentence, not on purpose, though. However, that is the only possible way to speak about Babiloni; since he is a musician who makes us feel the music in a lively way and he makes life, whenever he performs, a unique musical moment.
I know what I am talking about: I listened to him in a live performance in Vilafamés, an unforgettable concert; this is an experience I highly recommend. Babiloni captivated us, and he got it, because he was already captivated by what he was playing.
In that concert he gave a first performance of one of my pieces: Danses de Nova York. The audience’s reply was so moving to me that I thought that as a musician as Babiloni, who achieves such degree of communication – almost a whole communion – with those who were there, was the true one responsible for that success.
This is not false modesty, this is true. As a matter of fact, from this stay in Vilafamés I found the inspiration to write another work dedicated to Babiloni, The Triptic de Vilafamés. This piece expresses the everlasting memory of the days we spent in this charming village, where we shared the passion for music, that is – in short – the passion for life.
Of course, from that moment Babiloni, whom I call Manolo, is a good friend of mine, as well as his wife, Marta, is; and Vilafamés is something similar to an idyllic and idealized place, where it is possible for the local traditions, undisturbed conversation or Bach to coexist.
Some time ago I wrote for Babiloni the Sonata that you can hear in this recording, a piece that was composed thinking of him. It was done after some of our meetings in my house and for which Babiloni is jointly responsible.
Maybe you can find this commentary too subjective for a CD’s book…in fact, it is, and it can’t be any other way. When you hear the way Babiloni plays Sor’s music, you will appreciate what a lyric and delicate performer he is. But when you hear his Albéniz or Villa-Lobos you will realize that Babiloni transmits vitality and a bit of spontaneity that makes his music full of great naturality, as if the way we hear it couldn’t be any other at all.
He is a true poet of music. But don’t be misled…this sensation of spontaneity is absolutely studied, since he is a perfectionist, almost an alchemist. An alchemist whose research is not directed towards the finding of the philosopher’s stone, but – as it happens at all great alchemists – the result of the effort is his own reward: the research done longing for a vast find.
So then, I would like – modestly – to speak on behalf of my illustrious colleagues in this recording (Sor, Moreno Torroba, Albéniz, Villa-Lobos, and Reis), to be infinitely grateful for the affection that Babiloni has for our pieces, some works that, in his hands, become true music.
Josep Pascual i Triay
Composer and music critic