Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana ("Gypsy Zambra")
To some extent, Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963) has been described as the Cuban George Gershwin. He continued the musical traditions started by Ignacio Cervantes by infusing his music with Afro-Cuban rhythms. Lecuona serves as a link between the virtuoso pianistic tradition established in the late 19th century and the diverse expressions of modern era jazz and popular Latin American dance rhythms.Zambra Gitana
is an example of Lecuona's character pieces and is idiomatic of having distinct form and sustained mood. Zambra Gitana
was written around 1929-30, and reflects his continued fascination with Andalucia, Spain. The Andalusian Suite
appeared earlier in 1919-20. The zambra is an evocative flamenco dance performed by the Romani people (Gitanos) of Granada, Spain, which is believed to have evolved from earlier Moorish dances and has some similarities to belly dancing. The zambra dance forms part of the wedding ceremonies at Gitano weddings, and gypsies perform it for tourists in the Andalusian Sacromonte Caves and Hills of Granada. It was outlawed at one time in history and became known as the "Forbidden Dance". In modern times it has been espoused by flamenco dancers. It is danced barefoot with finger cymbals, the blouse is tied under the bust and the skirt is tight around the hips, then flares out and has a ruffle at the end. Here's a picture of the Sacromonte Caves from my Spanish tour a few years ago, taken just before the flamenco dancers arrived. It was an amazing evening of sangria, sultry, sexy, seductive music! (Please, don't ask me to post photos of the dancers too).
Zambra Gitana was in an album of 55 pieces: Ernesto Lecuona Piano Music
, published by Edward B. Marks Music Company. This is the only current edition available, and there are over 2 dozen deviations from the original piano rolls made from 1928-1954. The most noticeable error is that it's written in the wrong key. After transposing the piece from E minor to E-flat minor, I made the other corrections to reflect the composer's original intentions. Thanks for listening.
(Recording link directly above picture)Lecuona - Zambra Gitana