Founded by Josetxu Obregón when he was based in The Netherlands, the ensemble La Ritirata takes its name from the final movement of the famous quintet composed by Luigi Boccherini in Spain, entitled “La musica notturna delle strade di Madrid”.
Dedicated to combining accurate historical awareness (through a knowledge of the instruments and aesthetics of a composer’s time) with the highest levels of artistic quality, La Ritirata is at home in Baroque musical traditions from all across Europe; Bach and Handel figure in the ensemble’s programmes as much as Italian and Spanish composers from the courtly traditions of Early Baroque who feature on the Glossa album Il Spiritillo Brando. And naturally, given the Boccherinian reference in its name, La Ritirata holds a special place in its heart for the Classical era composer from Lucca who settled in Spain: programmes of cello sonatas, string trios and other chamber works feature in the group’s repertory.
The talent of La Ritirata is taking the group to concert venues and festivals all over the world; recent examples include the National Theatre of Beijing, the CNART Early Music Festival (México City), the closing ceremony of the Spanish EU presidency (Tokyo), the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele (Germany), the Museo de Bellas Artes in Santiago (Chile), the Centro Studi Boccherini (Lucca), the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, as well as all across Spain including at Musika-Música for La Folle Journée in the Palacio Euskalduna (Bilbao), the Real Alcázar (Sevilla) and the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid (in a series organized by the Centro Nacional de Difusión Musical). La Ritirata was also the only Spanish group to be selected for the first ‘Grande Audition’ of the European Early Music Network, REMA.
La Ritirata’s artistic director, cellist Josetxu Obregón (born in Bilbao), a student of Anner Bylsma among others, holds a teaching post at the Real Conservatorio Superior in Madrid and is the recipient of a substantial number of prizes from prestigious national and international competitions; his solo versatility encompasses all epochs as well as seeing him play with leading European early music ensembles such as L’Arpeggiata (Christina Pluhar) and Le Concert des Nations (Jordi Savall). Regular members of La Ritirata include some of the finest musicians of the younger generations of historically-informed performers, such as Tamar Lalo, Enrike Solinís and Daniel Zapico, as well as more-established players such as the renowned Hiro Kurosaki.
Since 2006, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga, a lot of scholarly energy has been expended on re-evaluating the contribution of this short-lived composer. That work and the imaginative interpretative capabilities of a new generation of musicians in Spain, schooled in period performance techniques, bears fruit now with a new recording from La Ritirata of the three string quartets dating from the first half of the 1820s. The result is to place Arriaga’s quartets much more in the vanguard of the early Romantic movement, written as they were by a composer clearly aware of the radical changes in musical thought being wrought by Beethoven. For its second Glossa recording La Ritirata comprises Hiro Kurosaki and Miren Zeberio, violins, Daniel Lorenzo, viola and Josetxu Obregón, cello, all reflecting the contemporary Spanish musical environment. To find out more about the modern day approach to the string quartets of Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga and his inspiration, we turned to Josetxu Obregón, born in the same city as Arriaga, and director of and driving force behind La Ritirata. [read more...]
The collective artistic endeavours of Glossa have recently been recognized with an award of Label of the Year for 2014 by a Europe-wide panel of classical music media organizations – print and online magazines, as well as radio broadcasters – who form the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA) jury. This is to be presented at the Award Ceremony and Gala Concert in the Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw in April 2014. The Glossa adventure began back in 1992, led by two pioneering Spanish instrumentalists – brothers José Miguel Moreno and Emilio Moreno – who set about creating a treasure trove of recorded excellence, notably in the ever-developing field of “early music”. To this day, the label remains focused on its artists, supporting their musical journeys and inclinations, with the artistic direction entrusted to Carlos Céster. With a small team around him Céster operates from San Lorenzo de El Escorial, surrounded by the abundant natural riches of the mountains around Madrid and with an austere Monasterio in sight to ever encourage him in the rigour of his work. [read more...]
Josetxu Obregón is one of a new generation of musicians hailing from Spain and like many younger musicians in many countries he has undergone further studies outside his own native country. However, what sets this early music performer (as also with Fahmi Alqhai) apart from others is that he has been invited to join the “family” of Glossa artists – indeed Obregón and Alqhai are the first Spanish musicians to join the label since the days of José Miguel Moreno and Emilio Moreno. With his fellow performers Obregón has created a spectacular entertainment for their first album, Il Spiritillo Brando, which captures the spirit of Spanish courtly entertainment across the 16th and 17th centuries through instrumental music, as well as allowing today’s modern performers to display their virtuosity in music from the time. Appropriately, the recording was made in the Real Coliseo de Carlos III, in Glossa’s home town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Here, in welcoming Obregón to the label, we have taken the opportunity to talk to him about his new recording and how, as a musician from the recent generation in Spain, he regards the performing of “early music” today. [read more...]