Two years of searching to reveal an unpublished work by Teobaldo Power

After two and a half years of research, the orchestra and choir director Joaquín de la Cuesta presents the critical edition of an unknown work, and therefore never performed, by Teobaldo Power, the author of the canary songs: his concerto for piano and orchestra number 1 in B major.

Joaquín de la Cuesta, who is also an orchestrator and musicological researcher, plans to present on June 9 at the La Laguna History Museum this critical edition of a piano concerto with a “lighter” first movement, but with a third in the one that the pianist “will have to sharpen his fingers”.

This demand for great piano mastery in an author, Teobaldo Power (1848-1884), of enormous virtuosity at the head of this instrument, is not surprising, and Joaquín de la Cuesta explains in an interview with EFE that it is “a true jewel musical” of the composer, whose canary songss serve as the basis for the Anthem of the Canary Islands.

The critical edition will now make available to soloists and orchestras a concert waiting not only to be performed live, but also recorded.

To unravel the origin of this finding, we must go back to Joaquín de la Cuesta’s interest as a musical researcher, which led him to specialize in Spanish symphonic music of the 19th century and the first third of the 20th.

And as a conductor, he details, he has always wondered why when studying Spanish orchestral music in conservatories “we practically skipped the 18th century and poor Arriaga, at the beginning of the 20th, Falla, Granados, Albéniz or Turina”.

“How is it possible that there is nothing else, apart from the zarzuela, in such an important century for music at a European level?”, he questioned, and as such he devoted himself “to reading, studying, checking, comparing and searching and you start to come up with names, obviously one of them Teobaldo Power, almost like a second row from the point of view of symphonic music, but a great pianist, well known during his time in Madrid”.

It was to such an extent that Isaac Albéniz, as a young man, went to meet him because he was one of the great pianists of the time.

Joaquín de la Cuesta knew that Power had written a first symphony, the one recorded by Víctor Pablo with the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, and he continued to investigate because there were signs of a second.

He searched the historical collection of the Madrid Conservatory “and I began to unravel things, although obviously the second symphony still does not appear”, but there are small sketches, in addition to other copies of works in Cádiz and perhaps in Malaga or Cuba, points out De la Cuesta, because there he studied and practiced Power as a teacher.

And in his inquiry the musical director learned that Power’s descendants had guarded a piano concerto, so “I went right in and said: I want to see this.”

Now, after two and a half years of work, of scanning the original paper and transcribing the concerto into modern notation with a digital edition program, Joaquín de la Cuesta presents the critical edition of the work with a bibliographical, formal and historical analysis of a sheet music that is preserved in the Documentation Center of the Canary Islands and America of La Laguna.

The discovery of this unknown work by Teobaldo Power is an example of the search of Joaquín de la Cuesta, who states verbatim that he is “obsessed” with unearthing Spanish music of the 19th century because the known ones and those that are being published and recovered are ” of a magnitude and quality that makes me wonder about the little involvement of the authorities with the symphonic music of this country”.

There is an inferiority complex with respect to European music despite the fact that the artistic and technical level of the Spanish composers of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century is “of such importance that I still do not know why they are not programmed in the seasons of the symphony orchestras nationals, nor are they re-released ”.

“Spanish musicologists are doing an immense job of recovering our musical heritage, but there is still a lot to do,” says Joaquín de la Cuesta, who regrets “the complex that we do not get rid of when programming, although the author is called Chapí or Bretón, and that it is not zarzuela, but symphonic or concertante works”.

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