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El Somaten

( Manuel Saumell )

This is an arrangement of a piano piece by the Cuban composer Manuel Saumell (1817 - 1870). It is an arrangement of a peasant dance (contradanza) and is dedicated to the daily hustle and bostle of the working-class district (el somaten). The piecelet includes an introduction with nice interplay and a main theme which is played twice. As with most contradanzas in this set, it’s a shame that the piece is so short, because they give me a sense of pure happiness.

Manuel Saumell was a self-taught musician who liven and worked in Havana, the Cuban capital. He was a forerunner of the cuban national movement (something like the Spanish national movement around Pedrell, with Albeniz and Granados as its important representatives) in which composers started to use their native music as subject in 'serious' classical music.

Although Saumell wrote a number of 'serious' works, he gained most acclaim with his piano arrangements of popular Cuban music, so many triplets and 3/4 - 6/8 rhythms. These contradanzas are a striking example of this style.

If you want to play this music: a nice collection is 'Six Contradanzas for Two Guitars' of Universal Gitarren Edition UE 18 986.