Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Ernesto Lecuona

Sorting out the various pieces Lecuona labeled Afro-Cuban dances is difficult; a couple are thought lost, several have been grouped into different piano albums, and others are scattered in various arrangements, some more legitimate than others. A core group of dances in this style, however, was published as a piano suite in 1930; the set is characteristic of all the pieces Lecuona wrote under the "Afro-Cuban" title. The rhythms tend to be lively and strongly marked, and are derived from the popular music of Cuba's black population -- a colorful blend of Latin and African sounds, employed in a salon style that doesn't condescend to the source material. "La conga de media noche" is a fast piece evoking late night conga lines; it begins quietly, the dynamics swelling and receding several times. The climax is extremely loud, but the movement ends with a triple-pianissimo glissando into the piano's upper reaches. "Danza negra" is a very marcato piece in moderate tempo, with thick, sharply punched-out chords dominating the central section. "...Y la negra bailaba!" falls along similar lines, equally jittery and a bit faster, but with less-pounding rhythms. "Danza de los ñáñigos" ("Dance of the Mulattos") is slightly more relaxed, at least in terms of tempo, and ends very quietly after some boisterous passages. "Danza lucumí" swings along with strong accents on the last beat of the bar, while the brief "La comparsa" depicts the approach and withdrawal of a carnival procession, with revelry at the central climax.