for solo flute
- composition date: 2018 / rev.2019
- duration: ca. 8:30 min.
31/07/2018 | Aveiro/Portugal, Communication and Art Department, University of Aveiro |
Ana Maria Pinho (flute) [within the program of the Flute: Hands on Research 2018 Congress]
05/05/2021 | Oliveira do Bairro/Portugal, Quartel das Artes | Mafalda Carvalho (flute)
Xipra, for solo flute, forms part of a cycle of works for various solo instruments, which I started with Hornpipe (1997/rev.1999) for horn, and already includes Chirimia (2002/rev.2012) for oboe [or soprano-saxophone], Alboque (2011) for clarinet and Conn-O-Sax (2015) for alto saxophone. For the near future, other pieces are planned, namely for marimba, bassoon, and accordion, amongst others. Xipra was originally conceived in 2018, but subject to extensive revisions in 2019, with this 2nd version being the final one.
The main feature of this cycle is the extreme level of virtuosity required from the player, be it by the use of extended techniques amongst the most modern for each instrument (such as extreme registers, quarter-tones, flatterzunge, multiphonics, etc.), or the endurance needed for the performance. However, all this is combined in a deliberately fantastical writing and, at least apparently, very free, almost improvisatory, despite the extremely rigorous notation. Hence, one of the goals of these pieces is also to appeal to the performer’s imagination.
Being a truly work in progress project (that I intend to develop during my composing career), this cycle immediately brings to memory one very famous predecessor, the Sequenzas by Luciano Berio. I do not refuse their influence on my own solo oeuvres, especially the more “lyrical” side of Berio’s writing; actually, in my “solos” I too tried to mingle, amidst all the virtuosity, a certain lyricism in the musical language that perhaps stems from my Mediterranean origins and the natural brightness so typical of the southern Europe countries.
The term xipra (or xipro, depending on the sources) refers to a pan flute traditionally used by the Galician and Portuguese mobile knife sharpeners, with which they announced themselves upon arrival at villages. Used by these artisans for centuries, it is usually built from a single block of bamboo cane, having more recently been replaced by plastic material. Their distinctive call has become a collective cultural memory of the peoples in northern Portugal and Galician territories.