Monday, April 12, 2010

Who Are Flora and Sunny?

Piazzolla composed at the piano, writing the music with his left hand while playing with the right, but he rarely composed for the piano. You will find piano arrangements made by others of works he composed for other instruments but pieces composed specifically for piano are few. They include several classical pieces composed in the 1950's while he was studying with Ginastera - you can listen to examples of these on the excellent CD, Unknown Piazzolla by Allison Brewster Franzetti, several versions of the piano introduction for Adios Nonino, and three rarely heard Préludes: Leijia's game, Flora's game and Sunny's game. All three of these are readily available as published by Henry Lemoine in France.

Two of these Préludes, Leijia's game and Flora's game, were recently posted on YouTube by the Polish/Swedish pianist, Dorota Zarowiecka. I have chosen to feature Flora's game although Leijia's game may be more familiar to Piazzolla fans because a version of it was used in the production Tango Apasionado and Pablo Zinger plays it on the wonderful CD, The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night. Mr. Zinger assures me he played it exactly as Piazzolla wrote it but it differs significantly from the Leijia's game found in the Lemoine edition. They are certainly related but Zinger's is a much more spartan (and better, in my view) version of the piece.

Ms. Zarowiecka brings a very emotional interpretation of Flora's game - full of dynamics and enhanced by well-chosen rubato. Her range of touch is remarkable. Perhaps there is more to be found by others in the piece but her performance is an order of magnitude better than any other I have heard. Note that the piece ends at about 7 1/2 minutes into the video. I don't know what the last three minutes of the video are, but they are not Piazzolla.

As to the curious names for the three pieces - Mr. Zinger has clarified the source of the title of Leijia's game. It was titled in honor of (and dedicated to) Kip Hanrahan's newly born daughter (Hanrahan produced the Rough Dancer CD). One is tempted to speculate that Flora's game and Sunny's game were also somehow associated with the Tango Apasionado production but Mr Zinger assures me that is not the case. I do have an alternative theory - according to the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, Piazzolla had dogs named Flora and Sonny. Perhaps they were the source for the names of the other Préludes.

If the video does not appear below, click here. If you enjoy it, I suggest you also sample her performance of Leijia's game.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

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