Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ernesto Lecuona

Ernesto LecuonaThere is more to Cuban music than salsa, mambo, rumba, son, guaracha, danzon, cha cha, bolero, habanera, zapatilla, zapateo, punto guajiro, criolla, contradanza, and the other many Cuban music genres that have worked their way into daily Western culture.

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Ernesto Lecuona, a Cuban composer and pianist of worldwide fame who composed over six hundred classical pieces, mostly in what he described as "the Cuban vein."

And yet it is an interesting paradox that perhaps his most famous work is MalagueƱa (The Girl from Malaga) from the Suite Andalucia.

I say paradox because this classical piece has been now interpreted as being the music that bares the soul of Spain in the piano, rather than Cuba, but betrays the island's cultural chains to the colonial mother.

But Lecuona wrote hundreds of other classical piano pieces that incorporated Cuba's unique musical legacy. Perhaps Siboney (a tribute to Cuba's lost Native American tribes) is his best.

Below is Thomas Tirino, Pianist, recorded live November 14, 2003 at the University of Miami, Gusman Concert Hall performing MalagueƱa. Below that is the great Placido Domingo performing Lecuona's most Cuban work Siboney. If you'd rather listen to just the piano (as it was intended) then the great Ruben Gonzalez plays it last.