For String Orchestra
Commissioned by Minnesota Sinfonia.
Versions available for String Quintet, String Quartet, Viola Quartet, and Cello Quintet
Video from the performance by the musicians of the Minnesota Sinfonia.
"El duende is the spirit of evocation. It comes from inside as a physical/emotional response to art. It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive. Folk music in general, especially Flamenco, tends to embody an authenticity that comes from a people whose culture is enriched by diaspora and hardship; vox populi, the human condition of joys and sorrows. Drawing on popular usage and Spanish folklore, Federico García Lorca first developed the aesthetics of Duende in a lecture he gave in Buenos Aires in 1933, "Juego y teoría del duende" ("Play and Theory of the Duende").
According to Christopher Maurer, editor of "In Search of Duende", at least four elements can be isolated in Lorca's vision of duende: irrationality, earthiness, a heightened awareness of death, and a dash of the diabolical."*
Thus, this piece is an attempt to harness this Duende energy: it has moments of fury, anger, darkness, but also instances where light shines through. It is also an exploration of how the Duende spirit manifests itself in the style of tangos, especially those of Astor Piazzolla. The piece is basically an homage to the great tango master, especially his own Duende-like electric performances on the bandoneón. After the intense introduction, a tango texture is established (with some rhythmic twists) and a Duende melody is allowed to spin its web above the gently rocking sounds of the tango accompaniment. The tango and the wild introductory materials continue to battle for supremacy, leading to a wild, angsty climax. The denouement arrives as the Duende-spirit appears to ebb away from the music, with small fragments of the previous materials peaking through the texture, before coming to a surprising, impish ending.
* This description is taken from the "Duende" entry on Wikipedia.