Thursday, April 16, 2009

Video: Danza de la Pastora

Danza de la Pastora is a wonderful piece by twentieth century Spanish composer Ernesto Halffter. The piece was originally written as part of his one-act ballet Sonatina, but he also arranged it for solo piano.

I had never heard of Ernesto Halffter. Last Fall I was hunting around the web for Alicia de Larrocha recordings. She's one of my all-time favorite pianists, and is responsible for popularizing much of the Spanish piano repertoire. I came across a video on YouTube from an old 1967 documentary pairing Spanish art and music. The second performance is de Larrocha playing Danza de la Pastora. It completely hooked me from the first notes.

So I started trying to find out more about the piece and about Halffter. I could only find one recording of his piano works, a two-disc set by Guillermo Gonz√°lez. The liner notes state that Halffter was "one of the most important Spanish composers of the twentieth century". I have plenty of respect for Halffter, and I'm completely crazy about Pastora, but I'm going to have to call BS on this one.

A note on the video... I'm definitely making some headway with the video quality. This is my first piano video in HD. You can play the embedded version below but you won't see it in HD. So make sure you go to my page at and watch it full screen. I should also note that YouTube now allows HD videos and stereo audio, so you can watch it HD at my YouTube page too.

Halffter: Danza de la Pastora from Ken Barker on Vimeo.


  1. I had never heard this piece. I really like it and the way you play it. Was the score in one of you books of Spanish music?

  2. The piece is quite deceptive. It sounds light and simple. But there are lots of things that make it quite tricky. (Douglas would have called it "fussy").

    I'm still not crazy about my performance here. Recording is so unforgiving of every little glitch. But at some point you just have to commit.

    I had to order the music online. It's an Edition Durand and I ordered it from

  3. Kenneth, I really like this one. It's bright and lively - exactly the touch I needed today!

  4. This is a nasty piece. Deceptively difficult and the key relations are confusing.

    Good luck with the first set of 10ths and the transition to AM.

    Not easy.

  5. I was listening to music this morning and this piece came on. I was so taken by both the title of the piece and the piece itself that I had to go and find it. Your version was one of the 1st to appear in the search engine. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you for this gift. Best to you