Tango - Paul Lacome d'Estalenx

 

Tango - Quadrant Video (Excerpt)

P. Lacome Tango - Full Piece Recording 

Composer: Paul Lacome d'Estalenx (1838-1920)

 

Date: 1912

I'm mostly sure this composer is correct.   Lacome has an almost exact contemporary named Paul Lacombe and their works get confused for each others.  Lacome d'Estalenx's Wikipedia entry describes him as primarily an operetta composer with only passing mentions of songs and chamber works.   His contemporary's entry has more variety of works listed, but no mention of any tango.   So I'm deferring to imslp here that this attribution is correct.  The score for this tango credits him as just "P. Lacome."

 

Why this one:

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I had been listening to my friends Chris and Beatrice's recording of Astor Piazzolla's "Histoire du Tango" at the time I was conceiving of this project.  I know almost nothing about tangoes, but I liked their album (and their live performance at Timucua Arts Foundation) so in tribute I looked for a Tango on imslp.   Check out their album here.

Description:  

 

Key:  D

Time: 2/4  BPM=130 (intro), 110

 

This piece was written for the piano, so unlike the rest of the Lazarus Music Project thus far, I had to arrange it for string trio.

 

As written it has an overall AABBAACCAABBD structure with parts A and D in the home key of D, part B in A, and part C in G.   

 

Performance:

I drastically shortened this piece, eliminating all the repeats and leaving the structure ABACABD, as opposed to the original AABBAACCAABBD.   I figured that when you actually have people dancing, having the sections repeat makes more sense, but from a pure listening perspective the repeats don't serve much purpose and would strain the attention of the audience.  

 

Arranging this took a really long time, but in general, the bass clef (piano left hand) is in the cello and the treble clef (piano right hand) has been split between the violin and viola.  I had the violin and viola trade the melody in the A and B sections in the sections that were single note runs in the piano and harmonize with each other when the piano right hand played chords.

 

The C and D sections, which are almost all triads (i.e. three note chords) in the piano right hand, have all the notes covered between the violin and viola.  In the C section, the violin plays the top and bottom note of the triad and the viola splits the uprights in the middle.  In the D section the violin covers the top two notes of the triads, with the viola playing the bottom.

 

The cello part is conceptually the easiest, but was very challenging as I had to come up with some creative fingerings to achieve the big leaps required.  Big leaps like this are pretty typical when you're arranging a piece for an instrument it wasn't written on.  I had to jettison any harmonized notes in the bass, which (I hope) isn't noticeable.   Between the position leaps and large stretches on a pretty big instrument (the cello) getting clean takes was a daunting task.  I made it work, I think, but barely. 

 

Overall the violin part in the A and B sections was pretty easy, but the C section had an absolutely brutal part towards the end (see timecode 1:34), again as a result of playing the piece on a different instrument than it was written for.   The D section, consisting of double-stops in thirds was difficult to figure out the best way to play, but was only moderately difficult to get down.  

 

The viola, despite some tricky fingerings in the A and B sections, was considerably easier than the violin part, as it didn't play any chordal passages, really.  This was a deliberate choice I made after my first cut at the arrangement.  I am better at the mandolin, and it's much harder for me to control ringing and string swoosh on my mandola.  This may be a result of the oval sound hole configuration on my mandola, the additional difficulty of playing the slightly larger instrument, or both.   Whatever the reason, I decided it was enough to make me cut down the mandola part's complexity and keep the more difficult passages in the mandolin.

 

I recorded the cello part first, then the violin, then the viola.  The BPMs on the score were 132 and 112.  I recorded it at 130 and 110.

 

Errata:

 

I cheated a bit when recording this and recorded it section by section, rather than doing one continuous take.   The cello part tended to cramp up my hands and the abrupt difficulty spikes in the violin made me decide to record it this way.   I likely could have gone with the "more pure" route of one song length take for each instrument but it would have taken me months more practice, a lot longer to record, and probably carpal tunnel syndrome.   (Seriously the cello part was actually kind of painful.)

 

Also, I recorded the intro flurry at the end and then we stitched it in the front in post-production.   This is because I'm a dumb-ass and didn't leave space for it when I did the cello part, which I recorded first, and which doesn't do anything during the into.