Tango in D, op. 165, no. 2

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            Isaac Albéniz was in the forefront of Spain’s composers during the nineteenth century, and was responsible for the surging interest and respect for the art music of the country during that time.  A child prodigy, his peripatetic travels took him all over Europe, as well as to the Americas.  But, his primary focus was in Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris.  Early on, he concentrated on music for the piano, especially of the pleasant, short, salon genre, but during his lifetime was active in works for the stage, as well.  While he is inextricably connected with Spanish nationalism, and is, in some ways, often considered the most “Spanish” of Spanish composers, he eschewed authentic indigenous folk material.  Rather, he crafted a style that is original, but infused with the harmonies, colors, and rhythms of his native country.

            The Tango in D was written in 1890 as part of a larger suite for piano solo, España, and is one of the most performed of his many popular pieces. Like so many of his compositions that were originally for piano, and later became warhorses of the transcribed guitar repertoire, the Tango in D has been arranged by many for orchestra, as well.  But, there are tangos, and then there are tangos.  While the fiery Argentine tango that literally heaves with intensity, sultry passion, and steam is often considered the paradigm of the dance, there are other interpretations, to be sure.  This one is a beautiful evocation of the sophisticated, languorous version that one might encounter at a tea dance in a European luxury hotel.  Think of potted palms, the novels of Stefan Zweig, and maybe the “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

--Wm. E. Runyan

© 2018 William E. Runyan