Alex Weimann's FandangoSaturday, May 15, 2010
(De or. inc.).
1. m. Antiguo baile español, muy común todavía en Andalucía, cantado con acompañamiento de guitarra, castañuelas y hasta de platillos y violín, a tres tiempos y con movimiento vivo y apasionado.
Real Academia Española
1. Ancient Spanish dance, quite common still in Andalucía, sung with guitar and castanets accompaniment and sometimes with cymbals and violin, in three beats with a lively and passionate movement.
It is quite a journey that I took today Saturday. I went from Francisco Goya y Lucientes, via Juan Manuel Sanchez to Italian writer Andrea Camilleri, his Sicilian novel protagonist Salvo Montalbano to Barcelona-born novelist Manuel Vázquez Montalbán and his mystery sleuth Pepe Carvalho. Carvalho took me to Buenos Aires via St Augustine’s in Kitsilano where I heard the Pacific Baroque Orchestra play a concert that put it all together.
It was sheer pleasure and an agony because I could not share all the connections with anybody I know. My Argentine painter friend Juan Manuel Sanchez (who introduced me to the art of Goya) is now in Buenos Aires. This combination of pleasure (feeling lucky that I could experience it) and the resulting isolation left me reluctant to face my computer keyboard until now (it is Monday night and I cannot postpone it anymore).
Perhaps one of the finest films I have ever seen is Carlos Saura’s Goya En Burdeos (Goya in Bordeaux) which I saw with Juan Manuel Sanchez (twice) in 1999. The film was gone in two weeks and the only available print in Vancouver can be obtained at Videomatica. If you are not into culture, art, a well crafted film that challenges your imagination then just to know that Maribel Verdú plays an extremely naked Duchess of Alba should be enough incentive to see this film.
The connection with all the other authors, sleuths and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra (via its brilliant director, harpsichordist Alex [my tocayo or namesake) Weimann) is through the fandango. An elegant periwigged orchestra is playing the third movement, Grave assai: Fandango of Lugi Bocherini’s (1743-1805) Quintet IV. This beginning is purely electrical and I sat straight in my seat. I was not to hear the piece again until tonight.
It was in the fall of last year that I attended the screening of a popular Italian TV series based on the novels of Sicilian author (he is in his 80s and writing like mad) which feature his Southern Sicily police detective Salvo Montalbano. I was so fascinated by the Italian TV film (I hour 50 minutes long) since it was far more intelligent and complicated than any of the Inspector Morse series I ever saw. The pace was nice and slow and there was little violence, lots of talking, lots of silence, plenty of eating and sex in bed European style (sexy but not overt). I was so enamored that I ended reading all the novels that have been translated into English up to now (about 14 of them). My friend, Patricia Hutter, down the street is also a fan so she purchased 14 episodes in the US and we have been savoring them, one at a time on Sunday nights. Her husband Robert serves us excellent English tea and we tease him threatening to tell him the endings.
I researched Andrea Camilleri and I found out that he has a deep admiration for Barcelona born novelist Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (he died in 2003). In honor of Montalbán, Camilleri called his gourmand policeman Salvo Montalbano. And just like Montalban’s sleuth, Pepe Carvalho is a gourmand, Salvo Montalbano spends a lot of time with lunch and dinner breaks at very good trattorias.
I made the decision that I had to read at least one Montalbán novel. I looked at the Vancouver Public Library’s on line catalogue and I was astounded to find that they had Quinteto Buenos Aires and in Spanish! This novel (in spite of the title) was written in 1997 when Argentina was still living the agony of bringing back he perpetrators of the desaparecidos (the proceso as they call it in Argentina). The novel’s quintet features a man who dresses up as Robinson Crusoe, his man servant (a black man) Friday, a parrot, a llama and a woman sometimes called Bertha and sometimes Alma.
This novel I have been reading slowly because I savor each page. It has not been since I last re-read Ernesto Sábato’s Sobre Héroes y Tumbas, that I have read a novel that so defines my former country, my former place of birth.
I sometimes make the irritating comment that some of the best popular Spanish music has been composed by a Cuban, (Ernesto Lecuona), a Mexican (Agustín Lara) or that some of the best symphonic music has been written by Frenchmen (Édouard Lalo and Georges Bizet) but I do believe now that one of the best Argentine novels ( Jorge Luís Borges never wrote one) has to be the Spanish Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s Quinteto de Buenos Aires (which, by the way has Ariel Borges as a protagonist and who purports to be Borges’s natural son).
Saturday night I decided to try something new. I brought along my novel and read while the Pacific Baroque Orchestra played its program of music featuring stuff that either was or might have been played at the court of Spanish king, Charles III.
The Pacific Baroque Orchestra suffered a severe shortfall because of the arts grant cuts. This concert was to be the last of the season and they had planned one with an extra large orchestra featuring oboes, trumpets, etc. Musical director, Alex Weimann had a choice. He either cancelled the program or severely curtailed the size of the orchestra. He went for the second choice and the orchestra Rosemary and I listend to on Saturday had two violins, one viola, one cello and one bass and or viola da gamba. Weimann directed and played the harpsichord which made do as the guitar for the Antonio Soler (1729 -1783) Fandango.
Suffice to say that Weimann’s re-thinking of the program ws brilliant and I was in heaven. At one point during the Soler fandango Weimann was snapping his fingers and hitting the top of his harpsichord. The concert ended with a “rearrangement” of the Buena Vista Social Club (called Passacalles Buena Vista) in which Weiman played on a tom-tom.
I will diverge a tad to mention that the PBO also played one of my all time favourite baroque standards (an a standard is the correct term I would say). This was Arcangelo Corelli’s Follia (op5 -12) arranged by Francesco Geminiani. La Follia was the Louie- Louie of the 17th and the 18th century. As I read my novel I could imagine that crazy woman (she may have been Portuguese) dancing (perhaps this is where the English word folly comes from).
Up until now the Pacific Baroque Orchestra has been my favourite Vancouver orchestra. I have sung praises on all its virtues. But not until today could I say as I say now, that Pacific Baroque Orchestra can really swing!