Nigel Keay - Tango Suite (2002).
For contralto, string quartet (violins 1 & 2, viola, violincello) and double bass. Duration: 10 minutes.
Commissioned by Radio France, Tango Suite is a short song cycle which sets the poetry of Argentinian poets. Recorded in Paris at Radio France by Madeleine Jalbert - contralto, Quatuor Diotima (Nicolas Miribel, Eiichi Chijiiwa, Franck Chevalier, Pierre Morlet), & Jean-Olivier Bacquet - double bass. Broadcast in January and April 2003 on France Musiques, and in August 2003 on France Culture.
|1. "TANGO" (lyrics = extract of a poem by Ricardo Güiraldes)|
|2. "POEMAS DE AMOR" (lyrics = extract of a poem by Alfonsina Storni)|
|3. "CAPRICHO" (lyrics = extract of a poem by Alfonsina Storni)|
|4. "VIDA" (lyrics = poem by Baldomero Fernandez Moreno)|
|5. "TÚ, QUE NUNCA SERÁS..." (lyrics = extract of a poem by Alfonsina Storni)|
Tango Suite was commissioned by Radio France in July 2002 and completed in October of the same year. Written immediately after Serenade for Strings, Tango Suite also employs a string ensemble but with a contralto voice added.
The commission for Alla Brève determined that the group would be relatively small, however the double bass gives a very deep and solid character to the music. From about 1995 Nigel Keay had been writing a very "deep-toned" music, and this is reflected in the Viola Concerto of 2000 in which he uses a contrabassoon in a chamber orchestra, often taking the instrument down to the bottom of its range. This idea is extended and the instrumentation of string quintet (standard string quartet + double-bass) is used in Tango Suite.
The five pieces are influenced by four particular forms of traditional Argentinean music: tango, milonga, candombe, and valse. Tango Suite is a work composed with the true spirit of tango in mind, but in the context of a personal musical language to create a fusion of styles.
The pieces of the Suite differ not only through the forms that they use, or are influenced by, but also by their tempi.
Texts of « Tango Suite »
1 TANGO extract of the poem by Ricardo Güiraldes
Tango severo y triste.
2 POEMAS DE AMOR extract of the poem by: Alfonsina Storni
Sé que un día te irás.
Sé que en el agua muerta y plácida de tu alma mi llama es
como el monstruo que se acerca a la orilla y espanta sus
pálidos peces de oro.
Tenías miedo de mi carne mortal y en ella buscabas el alma immortal.
Siete veces hicimos en media hora el mismo camino.
Respirábamos la humedad nocturna y olorosa que subía de los
(Pomes de amor, 1926)
3 CAPRICHO extract of the poem by Alfonsina Storni
Escrútame los ojos, sorpréndeme la boca,
Pero no me preguntes, no me preguntes nada
Asi somos, ¿ no es cierto ? Ya lo dijo el poeta :
(El dulce daño, 1918)
4 VIDA poem by Baldomero Fernandez Moreno
Dormir pesadamente la mañana,
ingerir media pava de agua hervida,
dar unas cuantas vueltas por Florida,
rimar sin tema, enamorar sin gana…
Mientras el mundo màgico se mueve,
un abrazo se arma, sueña una cabeza
5 TÚ QUE NUNCA SERÁS... poem by: Alfonsina Storni
Sábado fue y capricho el beso dado,
No es que crea, no creo, si inclinado
Yo soy ya la mujer que vive alerta,
y más se encrespa mientras corre y poda.
1. Tango, a tango, is the slowest of the suite. The initial resolve of chord/key at the beginning, takes the seemingly dark and foreboding start into a light and warmth. With statement and answer interplay between the voice and string parts.
2. Poemas de amor a kind of neo-romantic tango which has the fastest tempo. This song contains lovingly blended string writing and an open airy breathable style, both intense and placid at once. A gentle song buoyed by its accompaniment,
3. Capricho is milonga-influenced with a moderate pace. It's perhaps the most undemanding of the cycle for the listener with a simple happy feel and lilting tempo.
4. Vida tends toward a slightly brisker tempo with a more percussive style texture influenced by the candombe. An open easy-going song.
5. Tú, que nunca serás.. is in 3/4 (Tempo di valse) but often employs rhythmic devices such as hemiola, cross-rhythm and syncopation. Varied within itself, the song opens out in the middle, to give an open charm with a solid rhythmic character.