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Coroto Dances
Sonata for Bassoon and Piano

18 minutes

I. Merenguijaz
II. Valsanera
III. The Dance of the “yesquero”

Commissioned by Peter Kolkay. Premiered at the International Double Reed Conference, August 2022. Boulder, CO.

Performed at Vanderbilt University, September, 2022.

Program Notes

The word coroto is particular to Venezuelan Spanish and it loosely translates to "odds and ends." Any object that you've forgotten the name of, can be a coroto. There are various theories regarding its origin. In one story, it is said that the Venezuelan president Antonio Guzmán Blanco had bought a painting in Paris by the famous landscape artist Jean Baptiste Camille Corot. Upon bringing the canvases back to Venezuela, he would bark to his servants: "Careful with the Corot!" Soon enough, the service staff began to jokingly refer to the general's corotos, and the expression expanded beyond this use to refer to just about any object or odds and ends strewn about.

A different variant of this origin claims that 2 paintings by Corot were under the possession of Venezuelan ruler and dictator José Tadeo Monagas. Once his dictatorship was toppled, the commoners ransacked the presidential palace and dragged the two Corot paintings, which the president greatly admired. One of the onlookers, upon witnessing the unfortunate this situation exclaimed: Goodbye, corotos!"

Each movement in Coroto Dances is made up of little bits, odds and ends of other dances. The first movement combines the characteristic Caracas merengue (with its own rhythmic twist) with a bit of flamenco-inspired music. The title of Merenguijaz combines the word merengue with "hijaz" which is a scale of Arabic origin that is often found in some flamenco music, especially bulerías. The second movement, Valsanera combines a Venezuelan vals (a gentle, elegant waltz) with a strange and twisted habanera. The last movement, The Dance of the “yesquero” is a made up dance, and the name refers to the Venezuelan word for lighter, implying that this finale is a fiery romp of a ride that brings this sonata to an exhilarating conclusion.

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