Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Ástor Piazzolla was keenly aware of the changing style of the Argentine national dance over his lifetime. It was entirely natural that he should seek to remind his critics and fans alike of the fact that tango had begun in the process of musical evolution and altered its sound and mood through that same process. Histoire du Tango (1985) is the vehicle by which he did so. It is not written for the standard tango band, but is a kind of abstraction of that sound into a classical suite, originally written for flute and guitar. The music is a little over 20 minutes long and covers the evolution of the dance through the twentieth century. Tango evolved from an earlier popular dance called the milonga, which is itself evolved from the Cuban rhythm known as habañera. Tango was initially regarded as a low dance. Like North American jazz, it originated in bordellos, and so the first movement is entitled Bordel 1900. The second movement is called Café 1930. By now, tango was the favorite dance of all classes in Argentina and was known as a daring dance around the world. Piazzolla is now writing directly from his memories of the type of tango played in cafés in Buenos Aires. This is a respectful depiction of the full-blown traditional tango. The third movement, Nightclub 1960 (1985) evokes the precise time when Piazzolla returned to Buenos Aires after his efforts to create jazz tango in the U.S. It now becomes clear that Piazzolla is dealing in the overall composition with his own place in the history of the music, as more sophisticated jazz elements enliven a music that had become standardized and complacent. This is a picture of the early version of Tango Nuevo. The final movement is called Concert d'aujourd'hui, a title that most literally translates as "Concert of Today" but which might also be called "Contemporary Concert." By the 1980s, Piazzolla was becoming an exciting voice in classical concert music. He shows himself here as having taken tango from its polite café form through its new nightclub dance form and making it into a new form for concert music. The harmonic vocabulary here is advanced and often startling, and it is music for listening more than dancing." (Joseph Stevenson, . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Orchestra 60X60
is a project containing 60 works each 60 seconds in length presented continuously in an hour performance synchronized with an analog clock. The 60x60 mission is to present an audible slice of what is happening in the contemporary music scene by representing 60 works that are diverse in aesthetic and style. Since 2003, the music of more than 1200 contemporary composers has been featured on the Electroacoustic 60x60 project. Thousands of audience members from Berlin to Chicago to New York City to Los Angeles and points in between have experienced this innovative program which synchronizes a clock with 60 one-minute electroacoustic compositions. The Orchestra 60X60 project brings this innovative listening experience into symphony concert halls. Check Orchestra 60X60 out . . . this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC WEBSITE.

Powell and Pressburger's film "The 49th Parallel" - released in the USA as "The Invaders" - was the first film for which Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote a score. Made in 1941, the film depicts an ill-fated invasion of an isolated spot in Canada by the crew of a German U-boat. Watch an excerpt from The 49th Parallel (1941) . . . the PYTHEAS SIGHTING for the week.

As the critic Antoine Golea so aptly observed, "The Concerto for Flute and Strings (1949) is one of Andre Jolivet's works where violence gives way to tenderness, force and passion yield to charm. Of course the nature of the solo instrument dictated to some extent the intimate, discreet and suave aspects of this work, and Jolivet also had the good sense not to pit the flute against a full orchestra. The strings alone engage in a dialogue with the flute - sometimes lyrical, sometimes piquant and capricious." Watch a performance by flutist Seth Allyn Morris . . . this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

Explore, Listen and Enjoy!
Vinny Fuerst
Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music

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