Magazine article Strings

Tarantella De Chavon

Magazine article Strings

Tarantella De Chavon

Article excerpt

Two superstitions are connected with the tarantella, a bold, accelerating Neapolitan dance in 6/8 meter. One is that the bite of the tarantula spider induces a madness that causes one to dance in a frenzied manner. The other is that this very dance cures the poisonous bite and resultant madness. Warned to search my bed nightly for tarantulas at Altos de Chavon in the Dominican Republic, where I spent a sabbatical more than a year ago, I thought it only wise to work up a tarantella just in case. Eventually, one of the creatures greeted but did not bite me, outside my door.

"Tarantella de Chavon" is the first movement in a suite for two violins, bass, and percussion commissioned by British Baroque violinist Monica Huggett. One of the foremost Baroque violinists of our time, Huggett (profiled in "Monica Huggett," March/April 1996) appears regularly as guest director with England's Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the European Union Baroque Orchestra and is artistic director of the Portland (Oregon) Baroque Orchestra. She recently recorded all of the J.S. Bach Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin (Veritas 5 45205 2), and I asked her if she would perform the Partita No. 1 in B minor in concert this winter, after which I would present my jazz retake of the piece (see Play It!, April 1998). In turn, Huggett asked if I would write a duo for us to conclude the concert. I was intrigued. For a violinist, the similarities between Baroque music and jazz are numerous. …

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