On 2 June Raúl da Costa premiered Coll’s Gradiva at Festival Internacional de Música da Póvoa de Varzim in Porto; the 3-minute work for piano was commissioned by the Festival; it recieves a further performance and its Austrian premiere on 19 July at Lockenhaus Kammermusikfest. 

It is inspired by the figure of Gradiva – muse and heroine to the surrealist movement. Numerous artists, including Salvador Dalí, painted and referenced her several times, seeing her on the verge ‘being on the verge of mythology, dream and psychoanalysis’; she was the subject of Sigmund Freud’s 1907 essay on art and the unconscious, responding to Wilhelm Jensen’s 1903 novella.

Gradiva draws on Salvador Dalí. It is partly inspired by the artist’s highly stylised and suggestive telling of a Catalan tongue twister (seen here). The rhythm and pitch of this provides the basis for a canon that opens the work, further extemporised by piano flourishes. The work continues into a tango that seems to warp and shift, uncannily familiar yet strangely alien – recognisable rhythmic and melodic gestures are explored and unpicked, and appear to melt and stretch, as if in one of Dalí’s paintings.

It is the third in a series of nine piano pieces Coll is writing as homages to Spanish painters. The first, Madre, premiered in May 2023, and was written for the for the Iturbi International Piano Festival by Diputació de València. The 7-minute piece takes its title from a painting by Joaquín Sorolla; Coll discusses the piece in an interview here; the second, Ball de Carn (‘Dance of the Flesh’) was premiered by Alain Planès in April 2024 at a concert for the Barceló in La Pedrera Ceramics exhibition, and is inspired by  the eponymous painting by Miquel Barceló.

Dalí is a recurring figure in Coll’s music. His award-winning double concerto for Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta Les Plaisirs Illuminés is named for a painting by Dalí.  His trio ...de voz aceitunada (2010, rev. 2021, 2023) for flute, viola, and guitar takes its title from a line in Lorca’s Ode to the painter – the man “of the olive voice”. Coll’s music, though drawing on sources as diverse as the philosophy of Zygmunt Bauman and the poetry of Lorca, has a special affinity for painting. Coll, an artist himself who grew up surrounded by paintings, has commented that he conceives musical ideas in tandem with visual and gestural ones.