The first three guitar sonatas of David del Puerto –

Jeremy Andrew Bass

David del Puerto’s first three sonatas for solo guitar are large-scale, multi-movement works in a style that is at once strongly guitaristic, and highly refined with regard to harmony, melody, rhythm, and form. Del Puerto completed all three sonatas in 2015, a considerable milestone for a composer who had never before published works in this form for solo guitar. The sonatas represent a consolidation of the composer’s recent style: the synthesis of modal, pandiatonic, and twelve-tone harmony; references to folkloric, popular, and classical musics; and a lucid, immediate approach to both surface rhythm and larger formal structures.
Since the development of the six-string classical guitar around 1800, the solo sonata has been an important part of the repertory. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the guitar sonata has proven to be an enduring form, continuing to be a vehicle for musical expression and displays of compositional prowess. The Spanish musical tradition is strongly associated the guitar. However, contemporary Spanish composition remains under-represented in Anglophone classical music scholarship. Similarly, the music of Del Puerto’s generation (including Jesus Rueda, Jesus Torres, José María Sánchez Verdú, et al.) has yet to gain a wide audience among non-Spanish guitarists. After early successes in the modernist idioms of his teachers Francisco Guerrero and Luisde Pablo, Del Puerto began to develop a new style. The guitar has played a central role in the evolution of this style. The strong grounding in standard classical technique evident in Del Puerto’s guitar music is partly a result of Del Puerto’s extensive performance experience.
The analyses of the sonatas focus on the composer’s approach to form: it is primarily sonata form that distinguishes these works within Del Puerto’s output, and groups them together as a cycle. I examine the salient rhythmic, harmonic, melodic, and motivic characteristics of each work. I also explore how the sonatas interrelate through direct quotation and oblique reference. Finally, I address performance issues in each of the three works. While Del Puerto rarely employs extended technique, the demands on the performer are considerable in each sonata.

University of Kentucky,
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The first three guitar sonatas of David del Puerto

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