Brendan Faegre

composer, percussionist

Variaciones sobre Piazzolla (2010)




Flute, Bb Clarinet (+ Eb), Percussion, Piano, Violin, Viola, Violoncello
[Perc: 4.3 octave marimba, chinese cymbal, ride cymbal, 2 bongos, snare drum, floor tom, kick drum, hi-hat]


Aspen Contemporary Ensemble; Syd Hodkinson, conductor / 23 July 2010 / Aspen Music Festival, Harris Concert Hall, Aspen, CO, USA


for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble

After an inspiring master class with Nuevo Tango composer and pianist Pablo Ziegler, a musical seed was planted which, in Variaciones sobre Piazzolla ("Piazzolla Variations"), has matured and come to fruition. It is a composition inspired by the music of Astor Piazzolla, the man responsible for evolving traditional tango music into the Nuevo Tango style of today.

As I used Piazzolla's spoken language for the title of this work, I used Piazzolla's musical language for the style of this work--his syncopated rhythms; love of machismo, virtuosity, and extended techniques; jazzy, circle-of-fifths based harmonies; the chromatic scale; and his fascinating Baroque sense of aesthetics and form. Just as Piazzolla did not write traditional tango music, this work is not a traditional theme and variations. Rather, the introductory "theme" presents abrupt flashes of Piazzolla's musical personality, which are then developed segment by segment in blurry-bordered variations, climaxing with a wild solo for the Eb Clarinet, and ending with a virtuosic percussion solo gradually fading into dream-like reflections of the previous variations--now viewing Piazzolla's earthly, carnal style from a distance as it evaporates into the ether.

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Score Sample:

Variaciones sobre Piazzolla
[Aspen Contemporary Ensemble / Syd Hodkinson, conductor]

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