"An Evening in Buenos Aires"

"Astor Piazzolla, the last great Tango composer, was at the peak of his creativity when a stroke killed him in 1992. He left us, in the words of the old tango, 'without saying goodbye'; and on that day the musical face of Buenos Aires was abruptly frozen." 

On Thursday, November 16, Clear Lake Chamber Ensemble will perform works by South American composers Villa-Lobos, Ginastera, Piazzolla, and Golijov. Together, these composers laid the groundwork for a unique combination of chamber music. They successfully melded together their knowledge of the French classical style with their own interpretation of the music of their home country.

The music of Piazzolla was given new life by contemporary composer Osvaldo Golijov. In 1996, Golijov composed his "Last Round" as a means to bring back the spirit of Piazzolla. Astor Piazzolla was known for his bandoneon playing, which is symbolized through Golijov's work for double string quartet and bass. This two-movement piece represents both the compression (the violent first movement) and the release (the second movement "Muertes del Angel") of the instrument. Furthermore, the instrumentation itself represents the famous tango dance. The "two quartets confront each other, separated by the focal bass, with violins and violas standing up as in the traditional tango orchestras. The bows fly in the air as inverted legs crisscrossed choreography, always attracting and repelling each other, always in danger of clashing, always avoiding it with the immutability that can only be acquitted by transforming hot passion into pure pattern."

The passion that Piazzolla is known for is exemplified in his "Le Grand Tango", originally for cello and piano but presented in our performance as a piano trio arrangement. Piazzolla composed the work in 1982 for cellist Mstislav Rostropovich as a way to capture the spirit of "the new tango."

Alberto Ginastera composed his "Pampeana No. 2" for cello and piano in 1950. This piece contains both the excitement and sensuality found in traditional Argentinean music. A rhapsodic work that showcases the virtuosic side of the cello.

Although Hector Villa-Lobos is not from Argentina, like the composers mentioned above, he melded together the music of his country with his knowledge of French classical music. The first of his seventeen string quartets was fully composed in 1946, after adding several movements to a piece he had composed years earlier. The work consists of six short movements taking the form of a suite. Villa-Lobos was one of the greatest composers from South America, along with his contemporaries in Argentina.

We hope you can join us for this extraordinary view into the music of South America!

Brandon Cornett

CLCE Artistic Director

Brandon Cornett