QUIJOTADAS AND QUIJOTAZOS
Voltaire, the philosopher, wrote that “the world governs itself according to a few books…” Sure enough, one of them is Miguel de Cervantes’ universal work, Don Quixote. The “crazy” adventures, or misadventures, depending on your point of view, of the ingenious gentleman have inspired many films through decades, with more or less fortune, inside and outside our frontiers. The chivalry novel par excellence, visually perfect, holds in a complex and magical web of images, that the cinema has tried to reproduce along the years. Television series-The Quijote (by Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón)-, animation productions-Donkey Xote (by José Pozo)-and countless movies in many other languages make The Quixote an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Monsignor Quixote is based on the homonymous work by English writer Graham Greene. His text tells, in its own way, the immortal chevalier’s moving adventures. The book recreates the illustrious character’s adventures through a backwards and Manchegan Spain, showcasing history’s silent voices. Father Quijote, a former communist mayor, native from Toboso; Enrique Zancas; and a Rocinante with rubber soles instead of horseshoes strike up an unique relationship, a cloudy reminder of the irreconcilable positions between Marxism and a festive or tambourine Catholicism. But this peculiar relationship evolves into a surprising friendship, based on Faith and Love, and creating the miracle of Mutual Understanding.
Films based on Cervantes’ work count with a great quantity of incidental music, which defines somehow what has been called Quijotadas and Quijotazos. Works by Lalo Schifrin, José Nieto or Richard Hartley, highly experienced musicians, belong to the category of those musical Quijotadas, contributing nothing to our famous gentleman’s adventures. Schifrin’s work, too classically shaped; Nieto’s, too flat and foreseeable; or Hartley’s, pretentious and excessively out of context, lack Don Quijote de la Mancha’s soul, that imaginative and original spirit which Antón García Abril, a melody master, knew how to breathe into the irreverent images of his Monsignor Quixote.
This is how could be described the story surrounding one of the author’s most inspired scores, and that’s saying a lot. To speak about Antón García Abril is to speak about one of the most important and influential contemporary musicians in the last decades. Monsignor Quixote is but the tip of the iceberg, a colossal exercise on musical imagination, drawing the lines upon which this atypical story wanders. Monsignor Quixote’s score is more descriptive than rational; more situation bound than intention bound. That’s why we don’t find in it a proper musical genealogy defining the characters, apart from Rocinante’s leitmotiv, a playful melody charged with nostalgia, riding on the back of an old Seat car. Wind and strings trot through the space, recalling the all-time most famous nag’s steps. The score organises itself around two great melodies. The first one describes the feelings inspired by the Toboso-Streets of Toboso-, a place of eternal love, poetry and sleepless nights, whose streets are inhabited by nostalgia and the feeling of a soulful land. Clarinets and oboes strike up a delicate dialogue, tranquil and unhurried, which sweetly seduces the strings, the story’s grand protagonist, to modulate a melody whose texture vaguely reminds Maestro Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. Antón will use this leitmotiv again –Thoughts of a distant friend-End Titles– to express with unbelievable intensity the friendship between the two main characters. Nobleman and squire re-live Don Quixote’s and Sancho’s adventures through the arpeggios and scales springing up from the depths of the orchestra. The second one, “The Jewel of the Crown”, is the piece’s main leitmotiv- Main Titles-, an exquisite melody cleverly resolved by the author using classical guitar, the most Spanish of instruments, and exceptional witness of a land of legend. It’s a descriptive piece, putting into context History beyond the present time… Its melody places us riding on a hack´s back through the lands of La Mancha.
Antonio Pardo Larrosa