Last night, a group of musicians brought a slice of South America to New Haven with a set of works by Argentina’s most celebrated composers from the last century.
The Yale School of Music presented “Letters from Argentina” as part of the Oneppo Chamber Music Series at the Morse Recital Hall. The concert highlighted 20th-century tango music, centered around Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin’s original musical suite, titled “Letters from Argentina.” The program also included five pieces by Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla. Dana Astmann, manager of communications at the Yale School of Music, noted the integral role that the concert musicians played in the creation of “Letters of Argentina.”
“Many of the musicians performing here were involved in the commissioning and the premiere of that piece,” Astmann said.
The concert ensemble consisted of Yale School of Music professor David Shifrin, violinist Cho-Liang Lin, bandoneonist Hector del Curto, pianist Alex Brown, bassist Pablo Aslan and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi.
Evanna Chiew MUS ’15 said that she found David Schifrin’s performance and its juxtaposition with Piazzolla’s pieces noteworthy.
“The program had a unique brand of tango composition versus pieces as well known as Piazzolla’s tango music,” said Chiew. “Schifrin is a great supporter of chamber music and his brilliant collaboration showed in tonight’s performance.”
“Letters from Argentina” encompasses elements of Argentinean Malambo, Incan folk dances and music from the Pampas region of Argentina, Shifrin explained. Shifrin, who played clarinet in the concert, described the inception of Schifrin’s piece, the idea for which formed more than a decade ago when he visited Schifrin in California.
“We were discussing new ways to collaborate and he mentioned that growing up in Argentina, he had frequently heard clarinet, the instrument I play, in Tango groups in small clubs in the suburbs of Buenos Aires,” Shifrin said.
At the time of the meeting, Schifrin added, Lin had just returned from a concert tour to South America and noted the musical talents of Tango musicians in Buenos Aires. Shifrin and Lin then formed a consortium to obtain a commission for Schifrin to compose a suite of pieces influenced by Argentine tango music, which ultimately became “Letters from Argentina.”
Astmann referred to Piazzolla as “perhaps the foremost tango composer of recent memory.” Shifrin added that Schifrin was a frequent and close collaborator of Piazzolla, noting that the two met with one another in places that ranged from Paris to New York City.