Which of your compositions do you like best and which is the most successful?
Again too difficult to narrow down, so briefly (some are on YouTube):
Sinfonia of Passion, for two soloists (varying possibilities) and string orchestra; romantic, a mix between Bach, Bruckner and Franck. My own 4 Seasons for Violin and Strings (never been officially premiered in concert, I don’t know why!!), Tango World, a series of 6 pieces for three cellos in tango style, in which I’ve covered many tango aspects 20 mins – the easier ones have been performed numerous times these past three years or so!
My latest concertos: Concerto-Rhapsody for Double Bass and Orchestra (strings and wind) [26-27 mins], and Concerto (Elegiac) for Viola and Chamber Orchestra (strings and 2 horns) [19-20 mins]. I like both these works because the soloist dominates without resorting to ‘cheap’ virtuosos, and the orchestral parts have things of interest too, not just the soloist.
Chamber music groups: The Song Sonata, a popular classical work for duo of Accordion and Piano [12-13 mins] – very well liked in Spain! Violin and Viola Friends, for Octet of 6 Violins and 2 Violas [8 mins].
Recital/Solo: Breaking Into Bach – 2 albums of original Bach-influenced pieces for the Young Solo cellist – [18 pieces, 35 mins in total] – also versions for Viola and Double Bass. Sonata, for Solo Oboe [12 mins] – really good I think, but very hard/virtuoso! Sonata for Solo Violin [17’ 00”] – not premiered, again VERY hard!
These days you are presenting a new version of your Cello Concerto. What are the characteristics of this concerto and what are the changes that, in this new version, have you made to the original composition?
This originally dates from 2007 and uses in equal proportions symphonic development with a more lyrical popular song atmosphere. Why change things you ask? Because earlier this year I had the enormous privilege to record with the Basque National Orchestra (San Sebastian) my Symphony-Concerto for Txistu (=Basque flute) and orchestra, and the central movement if the three is a big solo movement for soloist without orchestra; here it works fine as an increase in tensions before the energetic third movement. But, in the Cello Concerto, there was also a large cadenza for the cello soloist between the two other movements, and in retrospect, I felt that this section rather separated the outer parts rather than help them come together. So I made a new central movement, a Scherzo-type movement, which used parts from the old cadenza and incorporated new things but this time fully involving the orchestra as well. The following cadenza (newly composed this summer, not based on previous work) is much shorter but makes for a better transition. It is more logical and structurally coherent this way!
How did you come up with the idea of creating the johnstone-music site? What difficulties did you have to overcome to create it and why did you decide to allow users to download the many scores available at a symbolic price?
I’m quite proud of my website, it’s been working successfully for over 20 years now. In fact, it must be by now one of the biggest in the world in the area of violoncello – it is a kind of open house to an abundance of music scores for cello recitals (and also other instruments though less), ensemble music pieces from 2 to 40 cellists – many of these connected to links to audios, videos, and performing groups from around the world. There are currently well over 1000 individual pieces of sheet music for varying sizes of groups, ranging from elementary stage cellists in their first years to professional virtuoso soloists. Plus articles and a lot of historical information on the cello and its history. A lot of people have also made generous contributions for free too.
So, on this website Johnstone Music, you can find most of my work from the last 30 years – otherwise, surely it is simply very shortsighted to have all these pieces lying almost unused on the bookshelves or only used for a premiere and then forgotten? I would much prefer that they are shared around. For many years everything was in fact free but, a few years ago, my webmasters convinced me it was better to ask for symbolic payments because all this is so big that it does cost well in excess of 1000€ a year simply to maintain. In no way should anyone think that this is a commercial adventure; not at all, and it often gives me headaches but I love it – one could say it’s a “professional hobby” !!
If you had a magic wand that allows you to fulfill three wishes, which wishes would you like to fulfill?
1 – I wish that jealousy and pointless criticism could be eliminated from classical music; we all do what we can, and we are all different. No one knows everything. Music is to make us feel BETTER! If you cannot say something nice it is better to say nothing!
2 – that, although the benefits of technological advances can be of much use and help, we should remember that it should serve us; we should not be the prisoners of technology!
3 – Compassion – a world where people can move more freely, accept immigrants better, not be so prejudiced by old generation opposition on sexual orientation, and where religions try not to impose themselves on others…and neither too people upon animals, who in my opinion have the same ‘right’ to live as us.
I feel that these three will still need a few generations yet!!
Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to let our readers know you better. We hope you find the right magic wand soon…