Dove of Peace. Homage to Picasso. (2010)
Dove of Peace. Homage to Picasso was written from September 2009 to February 2010, responding to the commission received from The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra of a concerto piece for clarinet and chamber orchestra, for RLPO’s soloist Nicholas Cox and Ensemble 10/10, conducted by Clark Rundell. This commission, which Casablancas greeted with enthusiasm, was made at the request of Cox himself, who, as a result of having listened to the radio live broadcast of the UK Premiere of “Seven Scenes from Hamlet” from the Barbican Hall, performed by the BBC SO and Ray Fearon, conducted by Josep Pons, had the idea of asking the composer for a new piece to be premiered in Liverpool. The coincidence of the premiere with the dates of a great Picasso exhibition in the Tate Liverpool led the author to conceive his work as homage to the admired Spanish artist and to the most politically committed dimension of his legacy, of which the dove of peace is perhaps the most universal symbol. Social conflicts, the gloomiest boundaries of human condition, war and peace, are dealt with by Picasso – as Goya had done previously and Miró also does – with uncommon eloquence and fearlessness, in contrast with the joie de vivre and the most playful aspect which enlightens his extraordinary and vital creative personality.
Expressive chiaroscuros and marked contrasts of tempi and character are plentiful in this piece, always maintaining - as usual in the composer - an eminently abstract nature, free from any programmatic intention. The soloist part appeals to the marvellous versatility of the clarinet, whose timbre conditions that of the instrumentation, always preserving - as pointed out by the subtitle and despite the virtuous demands and the sound wideness of certain passages- a genuinely chamber-like dimension. The work is structured in five sections, which develop without a break in continuity: 1. Introduction (Tranquillo e lontano - Con moto súb. - Calmando); 2. Con moto; 3. Lento; 4. Allegro; 5. Epilogue (Calmo assai. Estatico - Ampio e luminoso - Poco più mosso). The idyllic pastoral atmosphere of the beginning will soon be dashed by the dark accents of the bass clarinet and the aggressive bursts in the orchestra, with an oblique reference to the disasters of the war. Then it will progressively evolve towards the more lively and brighter central sections of the work, in which the dramatic quality of certain passages counterbalances the scherzando vivacity and the cantabile lyricism of others, of which the unfolding will culminate in a powerful climax, sustained by wide and sonorous chords by the whole orchestra. What follows is the Epilogue, with a rarefied and ecstatic atmosphere, in the mood of a “landscape after the battle”, which will slowly liven up: Life, despite everything, continues, in the same way that the Utopian dream will remain. It is then when the oboe introduces echoes of a song for children (“in the mood of a children folksong”), which the clarinet will take up again immediately and whose elaboration will lead the piece towards its vibrating conclusion, as a catharsis, animated by the soft swinging of C and D perfect major triads in a suspended atmosphere which will slowly fade away to silence.