About this Piece
Length: 11 minutes
Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (bass drum, castanets, cencerros, cymbals, marimba, snare drum, tambourine, tam-tam, tom-toms, triangle, vibraphone, xylophone), harp, piano, celesta, and strings
First Los Angeles Philharmonic
performances (West Coast premiere)
Fandangos, the composer says, is a fantasy on a keyboard fandango by Antonio Soler (and the fandango finale from one of Luigi Boccherini's Guitar Quintets). "I bring it to the present through some transformations of the musical fabric. When we are hearing something that may sound Baroque, a window into our time opens, and the piece is transformed. My title Fandangos (in plural) refers to the multi-dimensionality of the work."
It was commissioned by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony and premiered by them in February 2001 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It has travelled quite successfully since then, including an appearance on the First Night of the 2002 Proms in London. "A strong rhythmic drive throughout propelled the music onward," Timothy Ball wrote in his Classical Source review of that concert. "One of the memorable features is the way in which Soler's Fandango seems to disappear, swallowed up in a welter of brass and exotic percussion, only to re-emerge unscathed."
Both the Soler and Boccherini fandangos are archetypical manifestations of the dance, well-defined in meter, rhythm, and harmonic scheme. Sierra preserves these elements for much of his piece, and the music retains its kinetic dance movement even when refracted through his glittering orchestration. Harp and keyboards often suggest guitar figuration, and castanets further reflect the source material. The result is a sort of hyper-fandango, relentless in its obsessions, confidently colored, and imaginative in texture.