Much of Leticia Moreno’s time is spent discovering and championing original works for the violin by Spanish composers. She tells us about programming these alongside Spanish-inspired works in her next concert series.
When did you first begin to champion works by Spanish composers?
My life-long quest to discover works written for the violin by Spanish composers began with my Spanish Landscapes recording, released last year. I didn't know any Spanish repertoire written for my instrument and found myself asking why. There are some Sarasate works, which are beautiful, but he was a violinist first and a composer second. And I knew some Falla transcriptions, but I wasn't satisfied in believing that Spanish composers had written nothing specifically for the instrument. That's when I started researching and began finding some really special works.
Is it a project close to your heart?
Absolutely. Most people told me that there was no chance and not to bother. But it was like an instinct – three weeks after making my debut I had a whole week off so I decided to shut myself away and search for new Spanish repertoire. A week wasn’t needed – within two hours I had discovered so many amazing works and the first two that I found deserved the whole world’s attention: Enrique Granados’s Violin Sonata and Joaquín Turina’s El poema de una Sanluqueña.
How do you go about finding new works?
I have a few friends at libraries and also happened to know the family of Granados so it didn’t take too much time to investigate. Things began to crop up immediately. Of course you can research and read about composers and their music online as well.
And why do you think these pieces have remained less known?
I think the main problem is that there was not a Spanish violinist in the last decade that had the ability to showcase these works internationally. Violinists have to form their careers with standard repertoire to certain extent – as a musicians you must learn from Bach and Mozart and the Romantic repertoire as well as knowing contemporary pieces. There’s so much to know that somehow many people miss pieces from this Spanish repertoire – it’s unlucky for these works but they are just not known.
Does Spanish music particularly lend itself to the violin?
Absolutely. It’s a very universal music and the harmonies are unique because of the cultural background of the country. There has been a lot of talent here and wonderful composers and artists that are becoming more widely known. More and more people are getting the music now. Juanjo Mena, for example, has done a recording of works by Turina. And the viola player Nils Mönkemeyer has dedicated a complete CD to Spanish music. There are many artists just realising now how much great Spanish music there is out there.
What future plans have you got to perform works inspired by Spain?
I am playing with Christoph Eschenbach at the Kennedy Centre in Washington. We are planning to play some of the Spanish works I have already recorded and perhaps a new work I recently discovered. Our concert will also include Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, a work by the French composer inspired by Spain.
Leticia Moreno performs ‘Four French Composers Inspired by Spain’ with Christoph Eschenbach at The Kennedy Centre in Washington from 12-14 March 2015. Visit: www.kennedy-center.org for more information
Moreno’s recording of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No.1 is out now on DG
• Artist interview: Jennifer Pike
• Artist interview: Nick van Bloss