Mark Delpriora. Fantasia Lagonegrese.
Published by Berben. E. 5858 B.
Marl Delpriora is probably unfamiliar to many UK teachers and players. He is a guitarist and prolific composer based in New York in the USA. “Youtube” videos reveal him to be a player of significant ability and he seems to have developed a following in Italy – hence this particular work.
Lagonegro is a town in Southern Italy where Mark played a concert – but he was apparently taken with the sounds of the bells and choirs in the church and, when asked to write a piece about Lagonegro, he used the memory of these as a foundation for monolithic abstraction to human vitality. The opening ‘Lento’ is an expressive contemplation of sonorities replete with 4ths, minor 9ths and augmented 4ths – and conjures up a sound world of the fantastic; a sound-scape reflecting the awe as you stare into gargantuan places of beauty. And this is beautifully written for the instrument; idiomatic and intelligent.
A ‘Barcarola’ becomes more rhythmic and the motifs are easier to grasp. There are specific references to sacred motets and Gregorian chant and it is as if we have passed from the ethereal to the living – these are functionaries carrying out divine duties within the place; perhaps a priest intones a hymn or a choir practises its polyphony in a distant corner. There is a quasi-incantation presented as a low end “riff” which returns periodically and helps to underpin the tonal transition as we move into more familiar harmonic territory .
The ‘Finale’ sits with the people. Unambiguously sitting in A major and now more allegretto in feeling, this is an enchanting dance and it seems as if we have left the church behind and entered with the townsfolk into mischief, frivolity and play.
Mark’s treatment of a programmatic theme from the spiritual to the human draws obvious parallels with Barrios’s ‘Le Cathedral’. This is not virtuoso music – any good student at a music college will be able to make sense of this, and produce an effective performance. The “off-piste” writing of the opening is ameliorated by the wonderful sonorities we have available to us on the guitar. The fantastic can become beguiling – as I am sure was Mark’s intention.
This is an arresting piece which may not, because of its harmonic challenges, produce the following afforded to the Barrios – but it is certainly worthy of a look from advanced students and their teachers.