Luís Carvalho (1974 - )

Ref. ava141184


(2001/2002 – rev.2012)
for solo oboe [or soprano-saxophone] 

Chirimia (2002/rev.2012) for solo oboe or soprano saxophone, forms part of a cycle of works for various solo instruments which started with Hornpipe (1997/rev.1999) for solo horn, and that already includes also Alboque (2011) for solo clarinet. In the near future other pieces are planned, namely for marimba, alto-saxophone and bassoon.

The main feature of this cycle is the extreme level of virtuosity required to the player, be it by the use of extended techniques amongst the most modern for each instrument (such as extreme registers, quarter-tones, flatterzunge, multiphonics, etc ...), or the endurance needed for the performance. But all this is allied with a writing that is deliberately fantastical and, at least apparently, very free, almost improvisative, despite the extremely rigorous notation. Thus one of the goals of these pieces is also to appeal to the performer’s imagination.

Being a truly work in progress project (that I intend to develop along my career as a composer), this cycle immediately brings to memory one very famous predecessor, the Sequenzas by Luciano Berio. In fact I do not refuse their influence on my own solo oeuvres, especially the more “lyrical” side of Berio’s writing; actually in my “solos” I too tried to mingle, amidst all the virtuosity, a certain lyricism in the musical language that perhaps stems from my Mediterranean origins and the natural brightness so typical of the southern Europe countries.

The term chirimia (or chirimía, with an accent in the Spanish original) refers to a primitive oboe, with double reed and 6 to 9 holes, used in Europe from around the 12th century. Later the European colonizing clergy introduced it to Latin America, where still today holds an important role in popular manifestations (profane and religious) for instance in Guatemala, Peru and Mexico. The term chirimia derives from the French chalemie, which, in turn, comes from the Latin calamus.

Chirimia exists in two versions: albeit originally conceived for the oboe, the composer authorizes it to be played on the soprano-saxophone also, given the technical and register similarities between the two instruments. A few divergences between the two versions do not affect the substance of the musical material, and are meant exclusively to maintain some degree of idiomatic writing for each of the two different instruments.


The version for solo soprano-saxophone was premiered on May 2, 2014 by Henrique Portovedo at the 1st European Saxophone Congress, in Ciudad Real (Spain), and the solo oboe version by Tiago Coimbra on July 11, 2014, at Casa Museu Teixeira Lopes, in V. N. de Gaia (Portugal).