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MP3 Ron Strauss - Tangos De Santa Fe - Matapolvos

Melodic, intimate, richly textured suites for (1) guitar/flute/English horn trio, and (2) soprano/English horn/strings, a setting of Spanish text by Eduardo Galeano.

11 MP3 Songs in this album (53:33) !
Related styles: CLASSICAL: Chamber Music, CLASSICAL: Contemporary

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Composer Ron Strauss loves to extract the greatest magnitude of music from the fewest number of musicians. Here he assembles two attractive and unusual ensembles for suites rooted in the Hispanic rhythms of Latin America.

About ‘Tangos de Santa Fe’ Strauss writes: “The tango melodies came to life in New York City in the late 1970s. I woke up in the middle of the night with a fragment of music in mind. It started growing into a full phrase so I got up, turned on the light, and wrote it down. This was the first theme (played by the flute) in the first tango, Soñador/the Dreamer. All the other tangos grew out of this one fragment. A little later came the pulsing rhythmic phrase that links the suite.

I was listening to a lot of Carlos Gardel recordings at the time (1920-1935), and in homage to him I kept the harmonic vocabulary and structure of my tangos as simple as the popular songs of that era. The challenge was to achieve some musical richness and complexity while keeping the overall feeling simple and light. Originally I sketched the tangos as an instrumental/vocal line and chords, occasionally filling in a piano accompaniment. … When I came to Santa Fe in 1986 I was asked to compose something for the San Miguel Trio — guitar, flute, and oboe or English horn — and the tango melodies came to mind; I felt that the fine textures of a guitar trio would lend themselves well to a suite that was warm, lyrical, unhurried, intimate.”

About ‘Matapolvos’: “Matapolvo is the Spanish word for a slight shower that barely settles the dust (matar = kill, polvo = dust). The pieces of this suite are attempts at setting to music a few atoms of the great firecloud of Latin American history, so wrenchingly rendered in Eduardo Galeano’s trilogy Memory of Fire, from which the text is taken.

A friend mentioned this work to me, recommending it for its literary richness as much as for its courageous approach to history. ‘History’ books had rarely attracted me, often seeming to be avoiding, if not actively obscuring, some essential truth. Glancing through Galeano’s books, I saw that the format – short pieces, many less than a page – was completely original. Within a few pages I was mesmerized. I realized that my aversion to history was in fact a hunger long disappointed with being fed stones. Suddenly, here was bread.

Originally, I marked over a hundred sections for musical settings – an impossible undertaking. Useful restrictions came in the form of an invitation to compose a piece of a certain length for the wonderful chamber group Serenata of Santa Fe, with a helpful suggestion toward instrumentation. A familiarity with soprano Gail Springer’s beautiful vocal flexibility further focused my choice of text. My aim was to compose a suite like a good meal of Spanish tapas and wine — sharp and smooth, pleasingly textured, varied and complex — abundance without excess.”

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