Dances (2004/2007) by Laurie San Martin
for piano
World premiere

I. Tangozilla (2004) for Amy Dissanayake
II. Zambra? (2004, revised 2007) for Amy Dissanayake
III. Ziozuki (2007) for Karen Rosenak

I began this piece with Tangozilla written for Amy Dissanayake as part of a tango project where Amy requested 3-minute tangos from a variety of composers. After writing Tangozilla, the first movement in this set, I felt that the tango needed a companion piece or two and began working on the second movement, Zambra?, also for Amy. It was not until the Earplay Ensemble approached me looking for a piece "with piano" that I became inspired to write the final movement Ziozuki for pianist Karen Rosenak.

In writing Tangozilla, I was mostly inspired by William Bolcom's Dead Moth Tango and an assortment of tangos by Astor Piazzolla. I felt most attracted to the dark and playful character of these tangos. Tangozilla maintains a tango-esque rhythm throughout and gradually moves from the lowest register of the piano to the highest.

Zambra? begins by descending from the high register where Tangozilla left off. Irregular and off-balance rhythms give Zambra?? a nervous quality. The piece creates pedal points and uses flamenco-like rhythms to decorate these repeated notes. Compared to the first movement, the second movement is less focused, giving the impression of wandering.

Ziozuki, for pianist Karen Rosenak, recapitulates many of the ideas from Tangozilla. Like Zambra?, it is more episodic and less centered than the first movement. The episodes, or digressions, grow longer as the piece progresses and often sound either like Conlon Nancarrow’s offcentered canons, or some of the more persistent moments of David Rakowski’s piano etudes.

— L. S. M.    

[from program for November 12, 2007 concert]

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