Evolution of the Tango in Four Movements

Flutist Chaz Salazar returns to Central United Methodist Church for another benefit recital on Sunday, May 25 at 2:30 p.m. Salazar’s program begins in America with a duo by Aaron Copland, continues south to Argentina for a history of the tango from Astor Piazzolla, and ends up in France with a suite by Charles-Marie Widor, all performed with pianist Natalia Zinchenko.

Flutist Chaz Salazar

Flutist Chaz Salazar

Since high school Salazar has been regularly performing and working part-time at Target to pay his way through college. As a flute performance major at Arizona State University studying with Elizabeth Buck, Salazar plans to spend the summer practicing, attending classes, and coaching young flute ensembles at the Arizona Flute Society Flute Camp before applying to graduate schools in the fall.

Salazar will open his recital with a duo by Aaron Copland written in memory of William Kincaid, longtime principal flutist for the Philadelphia Orchestra and professor at the Curtis Institute of Music in the mid-1900s. “Copland likes to use really wide intervals,” says Salazar. “The very opening is flute solo without piano…marked ‘flowing freely in recitative style.’ It reminds me of a Native American flutist playing outside in the open…very calm and serene.”

“That’s hard to do, actually,” he continues with a laugh, “because it takes a lot of control.” A poetic, mournful second movement continues into a “really fast, very happy” third movement — “it ends on a really nice high note,” says Salazar, who explains that Copland’s rhythms are particularly challenging. “He uses very advanced and complex rhythms…asymmetrical meters…so you have to be really focused.”

Composer Astor Piazzolla

Composer Astor Piazzolla

The program also features Astor Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango, a journey through the art form in four movements. It begins with “Bordello 1900,” an exploration of the earthy, high-spirited roots of tango, and continues into “Café 1930,” when non-dancing audiences began to enjoy to the music of the sensual dance.

“I thought I would go back to my Latin roots…so that’s been very nice to adventure out,” says Salazar. “[And] Piazzolla…put accents in places where the beat isn’t strong, so you have switch…because inflection is a big part of music.”

Piazzolla’s Tango Nuevo begins to evolve with a bossa nova beat in Buenos Aires in “Nightclub 1960,” and comes to the stage of the modern-day concert hall in the finale. “I almost find that…with his harmonies, because they’re kind of sharp…he’s making fun of where it’s gone today, because…the fourth movement, the very last movement — it’s not the warmest of harmonies,” says Salazar. Piazzolla studied with his countryman Alberto Ginastera, then spent time with classical composition doyenne Nadia Boulanger in Paris until she suggested he return to his origins in Argentina’s national music. Ultimately, he transformed tango with jazz and orchestral influences.

Flutist Chaz Salazar (courtesy InterHarmony Music Festival)

Flutist Chaz Salazar (courtesy InterHarmony Music Festival)

The recital ends with a suite from 1898 by French composer and organist Charles-Marie Widor. “It’s a very Romantic piece,” says Salazar. “There’s a lot of rubato [expressive, fluid changes of tempo and rhythm].”

Salazar currently plays a lower-end professional Japanese model Altus flute given to him by Arizona Musicfest, and his goal for this recital is to raise money for a new flute as well as honor the memory of the late Mike Kaiser, a loyal supporter who left a generous bequest for Salazar.

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