Linton: Las fuentes del café del rey moro

Linton: Las fuentes del café del rey moro


In 1973 Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha came to Wheaton College to perform Isaac Albéniz’s monumental “Iberia,” a work for which de Larrocha was famous. Linton was the student manager of the college’s concert series at the time and learning, as he drove her to the college from her Chicago hotel, that it was the birthday of the pianist’s daughter, Linton arranged an impromptu birthday party at the concert’s close. De Larrocha was genuinely touched and that occasion began a friendship between the pianist and the composer that lasted thirty years.

The suite “Las fuentes del café del rey moro” is a testament of that friendship. Composed in 1975, the work is strongly evocative of Albéniz’s music — and is as treacherously difficult. It was also completely antithetical to the Webern mania that served as orthodoxy in “smart” compositional circles at the time. The work’s brilliant color, melody, and neo-tonality, as well as its emphasis on locale and elements of personal importance both to the composer and his circle foreshadowed things that would become central to Linton’s later music.

The “café of the Moroccan King” was a restaurant in San Diego’s Balboa Park. Built in 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition, during Linton’s childhood many of the park’s fabulous Churriqueresque-style buildings had fallen into neglect and much of the park was a picturesque ruin. The suite is an reminiscence of the beauties of that park experienced through the eyes of a child. The first movement is “the avenue of ten thousands fountains”, the second “the pool of the stone lion” and the third is “the fountains of fire and water.” It is dedicated to de Larrocha.

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