Work: Danzón Cubano
About This Work
Having already written the spicy El Salón México (1933-1936), Copland, fresh from a return visit to Mexico in 1941, produced this colorful, if slightly less successful composition for two pianos for the 20th anniversary of the U.S.
League of Composers. It was premiered at New York's Town Hall on December 17, 1942, with Copland and Leonard Bernstein at the pianos. Three years later, he orchestrated it, creating the version of the piece most often heard today. The work opens with a short, lively rhythmic theme, which is especially colorful here and throughout in the orchestral version. It remains relatively subdued, however, in accordance with the features of the Mexican danzón, a two-part dance somewhat restrained in its first half, but quite wild and driving in its latter part. The music in the opening half is playful and bouncy, its melodies exhibiting that typical stop-and-start quality heard in so many Copland works. There is a leisurely, somewhat mischievous sense to this cheery music, too, as if in preparation for the fireworks to come. Midway through, episodes of greater momentum appear, the rhythms turning spicier, the decibels louder, the sonorities often alluding to American jazz styles. But the music does not really explode until near the close, as the rhythmic character turns obsessive, almost mechanical. Still, just before the close, Copland deftly harnesses the runaway music before it gets out of hand. This attractive gem has a duration of about six or seven minutes.
-- Robert Cummings, All Music Guide
Select a specific Performer, Conductor or Ensemble or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below