Flamenco Concert Review of Tango Fantasy March 2008

Posted by admin - November 10th, 2010

BALDWIN-WALLACE ORCHESTRA PREMIERE’S CHOBANIAN’S TANGO FANTASY REVIEW, Sat.March 15, 2008, The Armenian-Mirror Spectator, Clevaland, OH, by Christopher Elliot,

BEREA, Ohio – The long-awaited premiere of Tango Fantasy for Guitar and Orchestra by Loris Ohannes Chobanian, Baldwin-Wallace (BW) Conservatory Composer-in-Residence was received by an enthusiastic audience, on March 5, at the BW Conservatory Gamble Auditorium. The BW Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Dwight Oltman and the soloist was flamenco/classical guitarist Marija Temo.

This was the second composition for Guitar and Orchestra Chobanian had composed especially for Marija Temo. The flamenco-inspired Concierto Del Fuego, (Concerto of Fire) was premiered in 2001 with the BW Symphony Orchestra. Since the premiere, Temo has performed the concerto with many orchestras and appreciative audiences have consistently enthusiastically received the composition.

The three movements of Concierto Del Fuego present diverse characteristics, yet they are based on musical ideas that are homogenous. The thematic material for both the soloist and orchestra use a common language. Soundboard magazine hailed Concierto Del Fuego as the “Concerto of the Century.”
Tango Fantasy matches the flamenco inspired Concierto Del Fuego in vitality and substance. The composition combines elements from three continents in a fusion of Middle Eastern melodies, Spanish flamenco falsetas and Argentinean tango rhythms.

The program notes stated: “Tango Fantasy combines the characteristic qualities of both the Argentinean Tango and the Flamenco Tango of Andalusia. Over the years, continents apart, these two dances of the same name have pursued their own individual paths and have developed their own distinct personalities. However, there are noticeable characteristics that hint at their common ancestry. In both dances, for example, we witness a compulsive need for the phrases to end in resolute and excited pulsation.

In February 2007, the composer and his wife Deanna visited many cities in Andalusia, Spain and heard numerous excellent performances of flamenco music. The idea of composing Tango Fantasy germinated during that time in Spain. Melodic patterns of flamenco music have often been influenced by those of the Middle East, especially in the vocal renditions of flamenco. Tango Fantasy incorporates Middle Eastern melodies. Years ago, when flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya heard that the composer had lived in Baghdad, he stated: ‘You have come from the land of my ancestors.’

Regardless of the many theories and studies that have traced the history of the two dances, the aim of Tango Fantasy was to create something new and that it does. The composition is in one movement and has a balanced formal ternary design. Unlike flamenco music the tonal centers constantly change. Themes of both dances are introduced in succession and develop in many guises that create strong contrapuntal textures. Sometimes they combine to create new units. Midway through the composition the pace slows down to a gentle presence where the inverted forms of the themes are introduced. The solo guitarist renders ornamental commentary on a gentle harmonic background. The opening passage is restated and the composition ends with an exciting coda. Tango Fantasy is dedicated to the composer’s granddaughter Sosi Lyudmilla Swisher.

The soloist Temo’s rhythms were precise and fiery. Her rendition seemed to inspire an equally spirited and exact performance from the orchestra. Oltman’s beats were expressive and clear. The different characters of flamenco and that of Argentinean tango blended in succession as if they belonged together and they indeed complemented each other naturally. The Middle Eastern melodies were reminiscent of themes that are used to call for prayer. Temo’s rasqueados, as expected were exceptional. If there was anything disappointing about the Tango Fantasy, it is the fact that it could have been longer. The audience certainly was in the mood to hear a lot more.

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