Tango di Tango for orchestra
Tango di Tango for chamber ensemble
Tango di Tango (1991) was commissioned and premiered by The San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, Christopher Wilkins, Music Director. Inspired by Ravel’s celebrated Bolero, Tango di Tango is a driving and hypnotic set of orchestral variations on a simple tango melody. Rodriguez has drawn the seven-note tango theme from his 1985 comic opera, Tango – hence the title, literally, “tango from Tango.”
Rodriguez’ opera, Tango, is based on actual news clippings, letters and an official papal denunciation of the infamous dance…of irrepressible languor and high-breathing passion during the tango craze that swept America and Europe in 1913-14.
Tango di Tango was originally scored for a typical cabaret trio of violin, accordion and piano. This new version for large orchestra calls for winds in threes, divided strings and violin solo plus a wide variety of percussion sounds, among them: piano, harp, four timpani, marimba, bowed vibraphone, maracas, tambourine, triangle, bell tree and several sizes of cymbals, gongs and unpitched drums. Also employed are the evocative sounds of a lion’s roar, a musical saw, a bundle of wooden switches, a whip, a hotel “front” bell, chimes, and the jawbone of an ass. The dramatic shape of the work is simple, in the manner of a Baroque chaconne, with twenty-eight bar variations rising in pitch one whole-step at a time over syncopated ostinato until, like Ravel’s model, it reaches a climax of blazing orchestral splendor, then rumbles to a close.