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Tango

About the Work

André Previn
Quick Look Composer: André Previn
Program note originally written for the following performance:
Fortas Chamber Music Concert: Augustin Hadelich, Joyce Yang & Pablo Villegas: Tango, Song, and Dance Mon., Apr. 21, 2014, 7:30 PM
© Augustin Hadelich

About Tango Song and Dance
As with any conceptually solid program, various connections and resonances between the pieces continued to arise as Patricia and I worked on putting this program together, and several possibilities for the narrative emerged. In Ed Berkeley's words, "The first step is to study the emotional connections between and among the instrumental lines in each work. Where do the instruments argue? Where do they agree? Where do they flirt? Where seduce? Where do they celebrate, where despair?" It all starts with Previn's Tango. Ed elaborates, "The violin and piano in Previn's Tango seem to be having an emotional problem connecting with each other. There is a struggle. This is the core of the evening, the starting point that cries for resolution."

It is then that guitarist Pablo Villegas appears playing Rodrigo's Invocation and Dance, drawing me into his own mysterious world. I join him in five Falla songs, after which the piano explodes jealously in Ginastera's Danzas argentinas. Ed feels that "private thoughts are explored in the solo works until a synthesis is found among the violin, piano, and guitar." At the end, in Villa-Lobos' gorgeous Bachianas brasileiras No. 5, we finally all play together. It's a truly beautiful way to end both the narrative and the musical program!

To reinforce the non-verbal narrative, Ed asked lighting designer Kate Ashton to create lighting that would further communicate the story. He asked that "spaces become smaller and larger to connect and separate the musicians; color and image change to imply the passage of time and further explore the emotional voice of each instrument." The lighting is atmospheric, reinforcing the character and emotional message of each work. In order that the musical content of the recital remain dominant, we decided not to use motion graphics. We want the audience to reflect upon where the pieces take them, and to make their own connections. We truly hope that our first venture into the multimedia recital genre will be as fun for you as it has been for us!

 

Tango Song and Dance (1997)
André Previn wrote Tango Song and Dance for violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. This three-movement work frames tonight's program, with the first movement, Tango, played at the start of the concert; the second, Song, at the beginning of the second half; and the third, Dance, at the end. Tango is full of theatrical flair. In Previn's own words: "At the time, the tango revival craze had not yet been born, and so the first movement with its purposeful and exaggerated tango clichés was still possible. The clustered harmonies are not terribly far removed from the sound the traditional accordion makes, and the whole movement should be full of self-conscious poses." Below the surface, however, there is a troubled and uneasy feeling. Song is poignant and extremely sentimental. The piano accompaniment's textures and harmonies evoke sad piano bar music, over which the violinist sings wistfully. The finale, Dance, is a wild ride. It is here that the jazz influence is felt most strongly. That said, it would be rather hard to dance to since Previn likes to make the bars trip over themselves by leaving out the final eighth note. Much of the piano playing sounds like boogie woogie patterns played on a broken piano-lots of "wrong" and "missed" notes and general mayhem! Above all this, the violin plays jazz riffs intermingled with more percussive, atonal passages. Overall, the mood of the movement is frenzied and jubilant.