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For Solo Cello

17 minutes

1. Firpo vs. Dempsey 
2. “The Perfect Vibrato” 

4. “El Canto del Gaucho Solitario”

5. Flight Over Ravinia


Commissioned by Horacio Contreras.

Program Notes:

Ennio Bolognini (1893 - 1979) was an Argentine-born American cellist, guitarist, composer, conductor, professional boxer, pilot, and 􏰣ight instructor. Though seldom remembered today, his musical virtuosity was widely admired by his contemporaries during his lifetime. Pablo Casals praised him as "the greatest cello talent I ever heard in my life". Gregor Piatigorsky told Christine Walevska's father, "No, I am not the greatest cellist in the world; neither is Feuermann. The greatest is the Argentine Bolognini."

Bologniniana is a Cello Suite inspired by this colorful character and each movement takes after an aspect of his biography or character. The work is intended as an homage to Bolognini, it includes some of the cello techniques that he pioneered and is inspired by his unique, bold and iconoclastic personality.

1. Firpo vs. Dempsey: In 1923 Bolognini came to the United States to serve as a sparring partner for Luis Firpo in preparation for Firpo's legendary world heavyweight championship fight against Jack Dempsey. This movement is full of energy, and depicts the fight itself and all of the punches. It's notable for its use of the left-hand pizzicato technique.

2. "The Perfect Vibrato:" Cellist Christine Walevska said that Bolognini "told me exactly how many vibrations per second for the perfect bel canto vibrato and he had the most precise directions on bowing technique." This movement is a slow meditative melody in the bel canto style. The challenge for the cellist is that they must play both the melody and the accompaniment underneath it.

3. Gambler: Bolognini was a famous gambler and reportedly often got in trouble with the mafia because he owed too much money in gambling debts. This is a jazzy, pizzicato-only movement that tries to capture Bolognini's suave personality. It also uses the cello itself as a percussion instrument to imitate a kind of makeshift drumset.

4. "El Canto del Gaucho Solitario:" This movement is inspired by Bolognini's own compositions and his love of Flamenco music. He would often play his own cello as a Spanish guitar. This movement is notable for asking the cellist to sing while they play. The cellist should feel free to move the vocal line to an octave that is comfortable for their singing.

5. Flight Over Ravinia: During a Ravinia Festival rehearsal, Bolognini was fired by the conductor during a heated argument. In response, Ennio used his stunt pilot techniques to get even. During the concert, he flew his plane so low that the noise completely wrecked the performance and he was arrested by several police when he landed his plane in the parking lot. This exciting finale is full of runs, tricks and wildness. It brings the whole suite to an exhilarating conclusion.

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