On November 21 at the Auditorio de Galicia, Pacho Flores and Manuel Hernández-Silva, together with the Royal Galician Philharmonia, will perform the absolute premiere of Danzas Latinas by Efraín Oscher, a new trumpet concert commissioned by the Royal Galician Philharmonia and dedicated to Pacho Flores. The same protagonists, Flores, Hernández-Silva and the RGP also with Leo Rondón, premiered at the same place in January 2018 Cantos y Revueltas, a ‘Fantasia concertante’ composed for trumpet, Venezuelan cuatro and strings, which will be presented these days in CD and DVD by Deutsche Grammophon, Pacho Flores’ label.
Danzas Latinas is a concert in five movements that, following its title, presents five corresponding dances of different origins: Bomba from Puerto Rico, an Argentinian Zamba, Samba brasileira, Bembé from Cuba and Milonga from Uruguay. For the performance of this concert Pacho will also use five different instruments: Soprano cornet in Eb (Bomba), Flugelhorn (Zamba), C Trumpet (Samba), D Trumpet (Bembé) and F cornet (Milonga). This work is part of the project of shared commissions for new trumpet concerts by important composers such as Arturo Márquez, Paquito D’Rivera, Roberto Sierra, Christian Lindberg, Daniel Freiberg and Oscher himself, that was launched by Pacho Flores with the aim of expanding the solo trumpet and orchestra repertoire and involves orchestras from around the world such as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, Orquestra do Estado de São Paulo, Orquesta Nacional de México, Hyogo PAC in Japan, Royal Galician Philharmonia, Oviedo Filarmonia, Orchestra of Valencia, etc.
Efraín Oscher, Venezuelan flute player and composer of Uruguayan origins who currently lives in Bremen, knows very well what it means to compose for Pacho Flores’ trumpets, being the author of Concierto Mestizo, premiered in Caracas in 2010 by the Simón Bolívar Orchestra and Domingo Hindoyan -a work that Pacho has played more than thirty times all over the world-; of Barroqueana Venezolana nº 2, part of a series of four concerts in the style of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerts but from a Latin American point of view; or of Apex, double concert for clarinet and orchestra, premiered in August 2018 by Pacho together with clarinet player Matthias Schorn, the Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock and maestro Marcus Bosch.
Efraín Oscher on Danzas Latinas
Dances are generally associated with joy, happiness and merrymaking, just as dancing is synonymous with partying. The title Danzas Latinas instinctively evokes carnival scenes, couples dancing salsa, tango or merengue, but the reality is that dances and their respective dancing are an artistic medium to express a wide variety of feelings and emotions. In Latin America in particular, dances are present at all levels of society and associated with religious, political, romantic and intellectual aspects, thanks to the profound miscegenation that has taken place in the continent.
If we go back to the Baroque period we can find evidence of how dances, which have their roots in popular music, were developed by academic composers and taken to sublime levels, usually gathered in Suites. It is noticeable here that certain dances convey deep feelings, in contrast with those intended for the entertainment of the court: the sarabande or the pavane, for example, are used for funerary purposes.
Latin America has an enormous richness of dances. There is a great variety of folk dances that accompany the sumptuous and colorful dancing in processions, parades, parties, funerals as well as other dances intended for couples. Their ramifications according to the subject of their lyrics are incalculable and vary from the fiery political protest to the painful “resentment”, going through satire, romanticism and melancholy. A special mention must be made of the great influence that the music brought by the Africans during colonial times had in the development of dances throughout the continent.
Danzas Latinas for trumpet and orchestra was specially composed for Pacho Flores, who uses different instruments of the trumpet and cornet family, assigning a voice with a particular color to each of the pieces he plays. The work consists of five dances and each one of them is performed with a different instrument: Bomba de Puerto Rico with a cornet in Eb, Zamba de Argentina with the flugelhorn, Samba de Brasil with a C trumpet, Bembé de Cuba with a D trumpet and Milonga del Uruguay with an F cornet.
Bomba is one of the native rhythms of Puerto Rico whose origin dates back to colonial times and was created by slaves in sugarcane plantations. In its traditional form, this dance is characterized by the intricate conversation between the dancer, the drummer and the singer, which is reflected in the counterpoint of the first movement, Bomba de Puerto Rico. The chorus‑proclamation pattern can be heard towards the end, when the orchestra repeats a motif to which the soloist responds with an improvisation.
The gaucho is the protagonist of the second movement, Zamba de Argentina, whereas nostalgia is the predominant feeling. The immensity and loneliness of the pampas as well as the gaucho’s suffering expressed in the verses of Martín Fierro were the source of inspiration for this movement. The tempo of the Zamba is generally slow; it is an elegant dance for couples where both use a handkerchief. In this movement the beautiful sound of the four-piston flugelhorn, an instrument specially built for Pacho Flores with a wide and loud low range, can be fully appreciated.
One of the most internationally recognised Latin American musical genres is samba. Created in Brazil by African slaves, it is a syncopated rhythm accompanying a colorful dance that is the center of the biggest carnival celebrations in the world. Samba de Brasil, the third movement, offers the soloist not only the opportunity to show his technical skills but also his creativity by improvising on the harmonies.
The fourth movement, Bembé de Cuba, is a special tribute to Afro-Cuban music, which has had such an influence on the popular music of the Caribbean countries. The bembé encompasses ancestral African cultural elements that are still present in the Cuban culture nowadays, such as Santeria and the Yoruba language. The ostinato rhythm of bembé produces some sort of trance in the participants of Santeria rituals and this mystical element characterizes this movement. The improvisation on the choir‑proclamation pattern is also present in this dance, an expressive resource of which Pacho Flores knows how to take advantage.
Milonga de Uruguay closes the piece and provides the touch of humor that characterizes this native dance from Río de la Plata. A relative of tango and candombe, milonga shows the African influence in its rhythm, as well as the outgoing character of the Montevidean citizens in its playful melodies and virtuous passages. This movement offers a cheerful and festive ending, suitable for a work that travels with virtuosity through the emotions along the rich geography of Latin American dances.