Wednesday 24 November, 2021

Garikoitz Mendizabal and the Basque National Orchestra release their ‘Gutizia’ album

Garikoitz Mendizabal and the Basque National Orchestra release their ‘Gutizia’ album

This new double album includes nine pieces written by authors of a variety of origins and 84 minutes of music that travel around the world to show an instrument with deep roots in Basque culture, the txistu (a type of flute). 

Gutizia is the result of many years of work and the creation of a repertoire for this instrument by txistu player Garikoitz Mendizabal: ‘All I am doing is giving you my time, my enthusiasm and my excitement’.

The recording was directed by the Associate Conductor of the Basque National Orchestra, Jaume Santonja: ‘The result is magnificent, the influences are cross-cutting and enrich all those involved’.

Two worlds which, on the face of it, are completely unrelated, have come together in Gutizia – a smorgasbord that directly links the txistu, an instrument deeply rooted in Basque culture, with a symphony orchestra. This is what Garikoitz Mendizabal and the Basque National Orchestra worked on last February in Miramon, under the direction of Jaume Santonja, to make recordings and write a compendium of pieces for txistu and orchestra. This work now sees the light with a double album released by Orpheus Classical, already available in all main retailers and on digital platforms such asSpotify and iTunes. It will also be available at Durangoko Azoka.

The record includes a total of eight works written or arranged by authors of diverse origins, rendering this collection of music a journey in itself. Most of the works will have their premiere on this record, and each has its own story and motivations behind it: a tribute to Kenya (Karibu Peponi); an expression of the emotions that human beings experience throughout our lives (Leyenda); a showcase of the txistu as an instrument that holds its own with an orchestra (Symphony-Concerto); or the piece by Lebanese composer Naji Hakim, who took inspiration from Basque melodies and introduced the txistu as a solo instrument in a classical concerto with three movements (Concierto para txistu y orquesta).

Director of the Txistu Players’ Band of Bilbao, Garikoitz Mendizabal (Zestoa, 1973) is an icon when it comes to performing on the txistu and to promoting and showcasing this instrument. He has undertaken an incredible labour over recent years with contemporary composers to create new repertoires. It could be said that Gutizia is the fruit of this labour. In his own words:

‘You can’t deny that with new music comes a broader and enriched repertoire for txistu and orchestra. This has always been my goal throughout all these years: to leave a legacy for generations to come. Not just Basque musicians but foreign composers who have written for an instrument that is so inherently Basque. I'd like the txistularis of the future to have more options and more material that they can play accompanied by a large orchestra. As is the case with other non-standard instruments (accordion, guitar, etc.), on the orchestral scene the txistu will naturally have more opportunities to play alongside a symphony orchestra, both in the Basque Country and abroad. I firmly believe that this instrument will be an invaluable resource to the international expansion of Basque culture. In fact, I’ve heard how excited listeners are when they hear our txistu accompanied by an orchestra. All I am doing is giving you my time, my enthusiasm and my excitement’.

 

 

For the Basque National Orchestra, this coupling of two worlds is a continuation of  its calling to promote and disseminate Basque culture, on this occasion via an instrument with deep local roots and a strong tradition behind it. Previous examples of this phenomenon involved the txalaparta (Kalakan), the bagpipes (Gaiteros de Elciego) and the trikitixa (Kepa Junkera). As has always been the case in this series of projects, the goal is to give the instrument a new lease of life and to create a formal record of the richness of Basque cultural heritage.

 

 

Other project participants

 

Jaume Santonja, Associate Conductor with the Basque National Orchestra, will act as Musical Director for Gutizia. As he himself says,

 

‘Right from the start the recording of this CD was a project that I was very excited about, because it was one of my first professional collaborations as Associate Conductor of the Basque National Orchestra. It has been an immense pleasure to meet Garikoitz and to explore a little of the world of traditional Basque music. Historically, the evolution of musical instruments has been linked to skilful musicians who wanted to expand their horizons, both technically and intellectually. And this is clearly what has happened in this project, where not only Garikoitz’s virtuosity, but also his vision and intellectual needs led to him to expand the horizons of the txistu. He does this by expanding the repertoire, with almost all the pieces written for the occasion and specifically for himself, in addition to encouraging the appearance of this traditional instrument as a soloist. The result is magnificent, the influences are cross-cutting and in my opinion enrich all those involved. I think it is fortunate that this project is also a recording, because it leaves evidence. Let’s hope there is more to come and that it is truly a wake-up call to experiment with this format in future live performances, both at home and abroad’.

 

In addition to Jaume Santonja, Garikoitz Mendizabal, the orchestra and the composers the project was joined by the soprano Naroa Intxausti, the children’s choir of the Francisco Escudero Conservatory directed by Eva Ugalde, and Iñaki Tellería and Marc Blanes for production and sound.

 

 

Information sheet

 

CD 1: 40’

  • Concierto para txistu................................................... Naji Hakim [13’]
  • Symphony-Concerto................................................... David Johnstone [22’]
  • Reflexiones sobre la longitud del viento.................. Fernando Velázquez [5’]

CD 2: 44´

  • Karibu Peponi................................................................. Javier Martinez Campos [11’]
  • Zaharra........................................................................... Popular (Arrangement: Pierre Wekstein) [4’]
  • Leyenda.......................................................................... Eduardo Moreno [17’]
  • Iruten ari nuzu................................................................ Popular (Arrangement: Kepa de Miguel) [4’]
  • Atzo ttun ttun................................................................ Popular (Arrangement: Kepa de Miguel) [5’]
  • Hora stacatto............................................................... Grigoras Dinicus (Arrangement: Iñaki Urkizu) [3’]

 

Participants:

  • Garikoitz Mendizabal, txistulari.
  • Basque National Orchestra.
  • Naroa Intxausti, soprano.
  • Children’s choir of the Francisco Escudero Conservatory. Director: Eva Ugalde.
  • Jaume Santonja, orchestral conductor.
  • Iñaki Telleria and Marc Blanes, production and sound.

 

 

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