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Sonata for Piano and Dirt Bike


Carles Santos has been a force on the Spanish “downtown” scene (taking musicians like Santos, Llorenç Barber and Maria de Alvear in opposition to the “uptown” likes of Cristobal Halffter, Joan Guinjoan and Tomás Marco) since the early 1970s. This “downtown” movement had a huge impact on Spanish musicians in the 80s, and still carries through to today.

Starting as a formidable young pianist who’d breeze through the Second Viennese school, Santos turned his attention to a combination of minimalism and theatrical spectacle (often with himself as protagonist). But aside from his fanfare composed to open the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, very little of his music has ever reached the U.S.  A lot of it has to do with the personal and theatric nature; so much is wedded to the visual and dramatic action (much of it with an over-the-top, campy and/or erotic agenda).

You’re still not going to find much in the CD bins, but Santos has slowly been building a nice website, and stocking it with a lot of clips from his work over the last 30-some years. This particular clip shows the “foreplay and consummation” between Santos’ piano and 6-time world champion rider Adam Raga’s motorcycle from the show “Ebrofalia Copulativa”, live in Ulldecona in 2008.


Comment from jccombs
Time: June 4, 2009, 7:29 pm

I’m impressed with his live performance. I get where he’s coming from with the dirt bike. HOWEVER, I sort of get the vibe that a slowing nearing chainsaw might have been even more effective, with a climax of the chainsaw directly into the piano. Thanks for the link.

Comment from jccombs
Time: June 4, 2009, 7:30 pm

*slowly* oops.

Comment from Marc Chan
Time: June 4, 2009, 9:22 pm


Thanks for the post and info! I’ve been trying to find out more about the new music scene in Spain, mostly unsuccessfully (looks like me googling needs improvin’ :) ), for the past week or so. So I was glad to find my starting point with your post. Thanks again and congratulations on ‘Vision’!


Comment from Steve Layton
Time: June 4, 2009, 10:41 pm

Thanks Marc. I just happen to have a wife from Madrid, who knew a lot of these people personally.

Contemporary Catalan (Barcelona) composers are actually easy to find now, as there are a number of labels that have released their CDs to places like The other areas aren’t quite so well represented. There is a Centro para la Difusion de la Musica Contemporanea, but it doesn’t quite have a general overview. One tribk is to go here:

And start paging through the months of concerts. You’ll find all kinds of Google-worthy names to explore.

Comment from Marc Chan
Time: June 5, 2009, 5:46 am

Much obliged! :)

Comment from Jamie
Time: June 6, 2009, 7:49 am

Beautiful…simply Fantastic!!!