Thursday, April 8, 2010

Malagueña by Ernesto Lecuona

The song played by Mark, Jeremy, and Song for Derek and Chelsie's Paso Doble on the results show of week 3 (April 6, 2010) is called Malagueña.  It's a lovely arrangement of the piece, and many probably recognized the tune.  This tune, though very well known as a guitar peice, was actually written as the finale of a piano suite by Ernesto Lecuona.  Lecuona was the son of a Canarian father (Spanish) and a Cuban mother.

For much of the last century, Ernesto Lecuona's piano suite Andalucía was the hidden source of a variety of musical compositions and performances. Its fiery finale, Malagueña, exists in several arrangements for guitar, became a popular song with a text by Marian Banks, and showed up for years on easy listening LPs by the likes of Andre Kostelanetz and the 101 Strings. Other pieces from the suite also appeared with added English texts, and no doubt Lecuona himself popularized the music during his years in New York as leader of the band Lecuona's Cuban Boys. But the original work, written around 1927, was largely forgotten outside of Cuba until pianist Thomas Tirino began to revive the music of the "Cuban Gershwin" in the late '90s. What Tirino revealed, to growing acclaim at first centered on South Florida, was a splendid six-movement concert showpiece that fused dynamic pianism rooted in Romantic virtuosity, Spanish and gypsy folk rhythms, and Lecuona's own unerring melodic sense. The six movements evoke various Spanish sounds and scenes, alternating lyrical pieces with dance rhythms topped by spectacular runs. "Gitanerías" is a flamenco-influenced piece, while "Alhambra," an evocation of Spain's Moorish-era palace, is one of several pieces that reveals Lecuona's familiarity with impressionist idioms. All in all, Andalucía (also known as the "Spanish Suite" or "Suite Española") fully lives up to the Gershwin comparison: it is classical piano music enlivened by popular vigor and informed by a distinctive compositional intelligence.
© James Manheim, All Music Guide (found at Classical Archives)
Videos of "Andalucía, suite for piano (Suite Española)" by Ernesto Lecuona. (after the cut)

Movement I: Córdoba.  Pianist: Thomas Tirino

Movement II: Andaluza.  Pianist: Thomas Tirino

Movement III: Alhambra.  Pianist: Thomas Tirino

Movement IV: Gitanerías.  Pianist: Thomas Tirino

Movement V: Guadalquivír.  Pianist: José Luis Méndez

Movement VI: Malagueña.  Pianist: Thomas Tirino

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