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Vistes al mar

Original for String Quartet
(There is a version for String Orchestra)
Premiered: Quartet Renaixement, May 31 1921, Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona. VI Temporada de l'Associació d'Amics de la Música.
Pseudonym: "Maragall"
Award: First prize Concurs Concepcio Rabell i Civils 1921.
Publisher: Union Musical Española (UME, Madrid, 1963)


1 - La ginesta altra vegada (Alegro con brio)
2 - Allà a les llunyanies de la mar (Lento)
3 - La mar estava alegre (Molto Vivace)

1-La ginesta altra vegada
Poem by
: Joan Maragall

La ginesta altre vegada,
la ginesta amb tanta olor,
és la meva enamorada
que ve al temps de la calor.

Per a fer-li una abraçada
he pujat dalt del serrat:
de la primera besada
m'ha deixat tot perfumat.

Feia un vent que enarborava,
feia un sol molt resplendent:
la ginesta es regirava
furiosa al sol rient.

Jo la prenc per la cintura:
la tisora va en renou
desflorant tanta hermosura
fins que el cor me n'ha dit prou.

Amb un vimet que creixia
innocent a vora seu
he lligat la dolça aimia
ben estreta en un pom breu.

Quan l'he tinguda lligada
m'he girat de cara al mar...
M'he girat al mar de cara,
que brillava com cristall;
he aixecat el pom enlaire
i he arrencat a córrer avall.

© hereus Joan Maragall

1-The broom again
(English translation)

The broom again,
broom so smell
is my love
next time the heat.

To give you a hug
I climbed up the ridge:
the first kiss
I left everything scented.

It was a wind flying,
was one very bright:
broom is governed
angry sun laughing.

I take in the waist:
the scissors were in noise
desflorant much beauty
until my heart has had enough.

With a wicker growing
innocent edge to her
I tied the sweet Aimia
a brief close-knit bunch.

When I have taken related
I turned facing the sea ...
I turned to face the sea,
it shone like glass;
I lifted the handle air
and I started to run down.
1-La retama otra vez
(traducción al Castellano)

La retama otra vez,
la retama con tanta olor,
es mi enamorada
que viene al tiempo del calor.

Para darle un abrazo
he subido arriba de la sierra:
de la primera beso
me ha dejado todo perfumado.

Hacía un viento que enarbolaba,
hacía un sol muy resplandeciente:
la retama se revolvía
furiosa al sol riendo.

Yo la tomo por la cintura:
la tijera va en ruido
desflorar tanta hermosura
hasta que el corazón me ha dicho basta.

Con un mimbre que crecía
inocente a su lado
he ligado la dulce amada
estrecha en un pomo breve.

Cuando la he tenido ligada
me he vuelto de cara al mar ...
Me he girado en el mar de frente,
que brillaba como cristal;
he levantado el pomo arriba
y he arrancado a correr abajo.

From the spring of 1901 Joan Maragall, accompanied with his family, spends time in the house of his sisters in Caldetes (Caldes d'Estrac). The main reason seems to be the bathing at the sea by their kids, because Maragall preferes the mountain. Caldes d'Estrac was a fashionable Spa town for the Barcelona bourgeoisie between 1875 and the 1920's for its thermal baths and beachside atmosphere. Of these stays are the collection of poems of "Vistes al mar", inspired by the beaches of the Maresme and Blanes. Eduard Toldrà chose three poems from "Seguit de les Vistes al Mar", the continuation of the first collection as an inspiration to write one of his Master Pieces, this String Quartet represents the culmination of the Noucentisme movement.

Eduard Toldrà was a renowned violinist and conductor, and himself the founder of a string quartet. His short suite of tone poems, Vistes al mar, takes its inspiration from three evocative verses about the sea, selected from a longer poem, The Weaver by Joan Maragall. Together these pieces, in a fast-slow-fast format, create a satisfyingly rounded work, albeit a brief one. The bustling activity described in the first poem is immediately captured in Toldrà’s ardent, tuneful music, while the gentler second piece is suffused with warmth. The finale bustles joyfully once again.

2-Allà a les llunyanies de la mar
Poem by
: Joan Maragall

Allà en les llunyanies de la mar
s’aixecava la lluna solitària.
Un himne sense mots, acompassat,
li cantaven les ones en la platja.
El cel, tot llis i tot descolorit,
s’escoltava el cantar de les onades;
i la terra, enfosquint-se a poc a poc,
sense veu, sense vent i sense gales,
semblava submergir-se en el no-res,
davant del cel i el mar il·luminant-se
al bes de la lluna, a cada instant més clar,
i a la remor creixent de les onades.

© hereus Joan Maragall

2-there distances to the sea
(English translation)

Over the distances from the sea
rose the lonely moon.
A song without words, rhythm,
he sang the waves on the beach.
The sky all around smooth and colorless,
hear the singing of the waves;
and earth, darkening to gradually
no voice, no wind and no galas,
seemed to plunge into nothingness,
to the sky and the sea, illuminating it
to kiss the moon, at every moment more clear
and the growing murmur of the waves.
2-Allí en las lejanías del mar
(traducción al Castellano)

Allí en las lejanías del mar
levantaba la luna solitaria.
Un himno sin palabras, acompasado,
le cantaban las olas en la playa.
El cielo, todo liso y todo descolorido,
escuchaba el cantar de las olas;
y la tierra, oscureciendo poco a poco,
sin voz, sin viento y sin galas,
parecía sumergirse en la nada,
ante el cielo y el mar iluminando a
el beso de la luna, a cada instante más claro,
y en el rumor creciente de las olas.

(Content goes here)

3-La mar estava alegre
Poem by
: Joan Maragall

La mar estava alegre, aquest migdia;
tot era brill i crit i flor d’escuma,
perquè feia molt sol i el vent corria.
Al lluny es veia un gran mantell de bruma.
Damunt les ones, amb les veles dretes,
les barques hi brincaven com cabretes.

© hereus Joan Maragall

3-The sea was happy
(English translation)

The sea was happy today at noon;
everything was bright and scream and flower foam
long as the sun shone and the wind came.
In the distance, a huge curtain of mist.
Above the waves, sails stiff,
hopped the boats as a kid.
3-La mar estaba alegre
(traducción al Castellano)

La mar estaba alegre hoy al mediodía;
todo era brillo y grito y flor de espuma,
pues el sol mucho lucía y el viento corría.
A lo lejos, una gran cortina de bruma.
Sobre las olas, con las velas tiesas,
las barcas daban saltitos como cabritas.

(Content goes here)

by Lluís Millet
(article appeared on the LP "Quartets de corda" d'Eduard Toldrà by the "Quartet Sonor").

"It is undeniable that the work of Eduard Toldrà (1895-1962) can only be correctly understood within the cultural framework of Catalonia prior to the Spanish Civil War and the personal circumstances of his manifold, yet logical, artistic evolution. In fact, he is usually classified as a representative of "Noucentisme", a cultural-political movement at the beginning of the XXth century in Catalonia. The only reference to the Noucentisme's musical expression in the Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana is an article by Albert Manent and Francesc Fontbona which speaks of "…the musical intimacy of Eduard Toldrà's songs, he who set Carner's El giravolt de maig to music" and to "the short and carefully-written compositions by Frederic Mompou, which act as a counterpoint to Wagner's monumental art so idolized by the Modernists. In Toldrà's case, however, this relationship was not so much a strict adherance -not even a theoretical reflection- as S spontaneous personal affinity.

Toldrà came from a modest family and soon developed an irrepressible vocation. At the same time, he practiced his profession on many levels with exemplary dignitiy and in conditions which were not always gratifying. His talent lay in his musical and communicative abilities; his musical education was more intuitive than strictly academic and his cultural and literary preferences were a reflection of the innate quality of his sensitivity.

The essence of what we call "Noucentisme" in Toldrà's music is also part of a generational factor; specifically, we find (apart from personal characteristics which are difficult to define) an absence of rhetorical artifice, purity of discourse, brightness and transparent sonority, a visceral aversion to any apparent speculation and, especially, poetical inspiration (not only literary or programatic) that forms the basis of his music with text as well as a great deal of his instrumental compositions.

We should also note that the greater part of Toldrà's output is during the period 1920-1936, an equally significant period for Catalan poetry. As we have already said, this symbiosis of music and poetry in Toldrá's production is not restricted to his vocal music (the Catalan "Lieder" that show his literary affinities and the opera
El giravolt de maig in which the poetical sense and lieder-like character are far removed from the Modernist's attempt to create, a Catalan lyric theatre) but also finds expression in his two most significant chamber works: the quartet Vistas al mar (1920) and the Sis Sonets for violin and piano.

The ten years Toldrà devoted to the Quartet Renaixement (1911-1921) which he himself founded at the age of sixteen and which played such an important role in Catalan musical life, represent a decisive impulse in his musical education; and really, with the break-up of the group we can establish a dividing line between Toldrà the violinist and Toldrà the composer. After that his creative ability came to the foreground, even though the first work he considered his own (in spite of earlier attempts) was the
Quartet in c minor, dated 1914, which we now present in its very first recording.

It won the Premi Olot in 1919. Since that time It has gone unpublished, although the Quartet Renaixement performed it often with Toldrà playing first violin, Toldrà's opera prima shows us to what extent this very young Catalan musician identified with the great music he discovered In his first passionate and decisive professional experience as a string quartet player. The result, however, easily goes beyond the limits of a simple exercise in style because of the sureness and the spirit with which he tackles the classic/romantic form.

Mendelssohns's Influence may be felt hovering, in the distance; this, certainly, would be very agreeable with Toldrà's personal communicability. Six years later, the three movements of his Quartet Vistes al mar (an absolutely, classic example of Catalan music in the first third of the XXth century) shows us a composer very much at home with himself, although he never considered originality to be his chief aim.

Once again, Toldrà found a stimulus for his inspiration in a specific poetical model -Joan Maragall's three poems which head the score: "La ginesta" (allegro con brio), Allà a les llunyanies de la mar" (lento), "La mar estava alegre" (molto vivace)- now recreated in purely musical terms. Without any descriptive concession, each movement formally develops a musical material -melodic, rhythmic or motivic- quite suitable and suggestive of the poetical atmosphere he wishes to express, without being academic or stereotyped and including a number of daring tonal modulations.

Vistes al mar can best be understood as expressing a specific period in the civic and cultural history of Catalonia; we must, therefore, take this context into account (including its objective musical qualities) if we want an overall evaluation of it. After the Spanish Civil War a drastic change took place in the city's life which had important consequences Toldrà became increasingly involved in orchestral conducting. Personally, we heard him comment, on the great difficulty of being a composer in the second half of the twentieth century and his wish to devote more of his time to composition after retiring as conductor of the Barcelona City Philharmonic Orchestra. His death prevented him from doing this,. Nevertheless, we can only wonder how Eduard Toldrà would have assimilated and personalized his experiences as one of the most competent conductors of a good number of twentieth century works. This question, unfortunately, will have to go unanswered."