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 Post subject: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 12:09 am 
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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). 8)

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

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Last edited by 88man on Mon May 10, 2010 4:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 3:59 am 
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Hi George,

I just listened to "Zambra Gitana", which is a colorful and picturesque piece of music indeed. The only Lecuona piece I ever learned was "Malaguena". Until now I had never heard "Zambra Gitana" before, but I believe that your rendition is certainly very convincing and a delight to hear. Nice playing! Also, thanks for including all of that background information.

That was interesting how you discovered the correct key signature for the piece and transposed it to E flat minor based on the piano roll. I had a similar key signature experience with Lecuona. When our daughter was in middle school, the music director there asked if I would play the accompaniment for the choral version of "Malaguena" (along with some other songs) and I was pleased to do so. The original piano version of "Malaguena" was written in C#m, but the choral accompaniment was printed in Cm undoubtedly to be more comfortable for the singers. Learning the accompaniment was nothing, as the figuration was so similar to the piano version. But was it ever uncomfortable to play in Cm!!! Some of the arpeggiated figuration did not fall under the hand well to the point of almost being painful. Nonetheless, the performance went off well. But what a difference a key signature can make!

P.S. If nobody asks to see a picture of the dancers, remind me and I'll request it. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 8:21 am 
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A marvellous performance ! In particular the ending is delicious. There seem to be a couple of mistakes in the introduction, which I am surprised you did not clean up. Great dynamics.
The piece itself is not quite as good as the ones I know from Lecuona, but still it's a charmer. It would probably not sound as opulent in E minor.

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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 8:25 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
P.S. If nobody asks to see a picture of the dancers, remind me and I'll request it. :lol:

I second that most forcefully. It's the sultry, sexy, seductive dancers we want to see, not that dreadful touristy pub facade :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 1:29 pm 
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This is up, George. Great job; you captured the spirit nicely! And now we have two recordings of this on the site - your E-flat version and also an E minor version play our beloved J. Robson.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 5:08 am 
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Thank you David, Chris, and Monica for your comments. Thank you very much, Monica for posting! Chris, I am glad you said something about the opening bar. I recorded 3 takes on this piece, and posted the wrong take with the fumbled beginning. This is what happens when I spend more time writing threads, and finding pictures late into the night, instead of focusing on the selecting the right take. :P I just attached the correct file; can it be changed on the site too? Sorry, for the inconvenience.

Alright guys, it's getting late again tonight - just give me a little time to find and resize "those" pictures for the site. :wink:

Rewriting the score turned into a "restoration" project by recreating E-flat minor version of this charming piece. Besides the 2 dozen or so changes, the major differences from the E minor version is in the opening and ending phrases. I made the changes on photocopied sheets, and If anyone wants the E-flat version, please let me know.

Monica, yes, I am glad to that there are 2 versions/keys of this piece on the site. As I sit here writing this post, it all seems rather bittersweet as I would have enjoyed discussing this project with the our prolific Lecuona admirer on PS, the late Mr. John Robson. He was active before my arrival, however, I am sure we would have shared an intriguing musical discussion upon the subject of the 2 versions of this piece. God Rest His Soul....

George


Lecuona - Zambra Gitana

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"Nobility of spirit has more to do with simplicity than ostentation, wisdom rather than wealth, commitment rather than ambition." ~Riccardo Muti


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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 2:35 pm 
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I've replaced this, George. And for my trouble, perhaps you can post photos of some dark, sexy, handsome Spanish man for me to drool over? :lol:
(If not, a nice bottle of sangria will suffice. :P )

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 4:45 pm 
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Hi George

Thank you for introducing me to the Zambra Gitana and for the discussion
about the work.

Your playing effectively brings out the sculpture of the piece.
The melody sings beautifully.

Kaila

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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 6:56 pm 
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Hello Goerge,

You've made a terrific job in restoring and recording this amazing piece. I love it.
Could you please send me your restored score?
afsdia at gmail.com (thanks in advance)

Also, for you guys who are drooling for the dancers, check out this video by Grupo Corpo, a Brazilian dance company, who did a show called "Lecuona" entirely dedicated to his songs. Note that, on the recording, the piano is played by Lecuona himself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxekhWLv5D4

Best,
Alexandre


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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 8:06 pm 
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Hm, that's not exacly sexy or sultry... But nice to hear Lecuona play.

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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 12:17 am 
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Thank you Kaila and Alexandre for the wonderful comments. I am glad that everyone enjoys this piece in E-flat minor as well.

Alexandre, during the week is always hectic, but I'll have time over the weekend to scan the restored sheets, so that I can email it to you.

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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:07 am 
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Thank you George :)

Best,
Alexandre


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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 4:13 am 
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OK Chris, David, Monica, and Alexandre, here are some of the flamenco dancers. I actually danced with the hot one in the black/red dress as she picked me from the audience. I won't post that photo, but suffice to say that she said I was able to keep up with her. :wink: The Sacromonte Caves are tight, sultry, dark, and hot in the summer - the perfect recipe for an amazing experience of flamenco music and dance! I'd go back to Spain and the Balearic Islands in a heartbeat! The last 4 pics were from an terrific flamenco concert in Seville 2 days before. Sangria was involved at that dance party too!!! :D

Quote:
And for my trouble, perhaps you can post photos of some dark, sexy, handsome Spanish man for me to drool over? If not, a nice bottle of sangria will suffice.
Why not both? Here's the Sangria you ordered. It's Thursday night, I just made some... Cheers! I am actually making 2 gallons for Tango Night at my home on the 23rd! The invite for PS members is still open... 8)

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"Nobility of spirit has more to do with simplicity than ostentation, wisdom rather than wealth, commitment rather than ambition." ~Riccardo Muti


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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:33 pm 
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Oooh, thanks, George. You took care of both my requests.(although that one guy has some pretty strange arms. :lol: )
I'm going out with some girl friends tonight, so I think I really will have some sangria.
And sure I'll come to your party. Just send me a plane ticket!

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963): Zambra Gitana
PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:50 pm 
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That's more like it :D

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