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Ignacio Cervantes :13 Danzas Cubanas arranged by Marc Bataini : DOz

Updated: Jun 5, 2022

Ignacio Cervantes (arranged for two guitars by Marc Bataini)

Les Productions D’Oz: score only 28 pages

Ignacio Cervantes, possibly the greatest composer from Cuba in the 19th Century, amongst many other works, composed 45 Danzas Cubanas for piano. Some years ago guitarist Marc Bataini, arranged 14 of them for two guitars, published by Henri Lemoine. Since then he has been hard at work because here are another 13. A preface in this edition states, that in these transcriptions for two guitars, the performers will be keen to find what the Cervantes’ predecessor, Manuel Saumell, asked for, for the interpretation of his own contradanses. The answer is with charm, grace and lightness and because these dances are very short, Bataini suggests playing them twice.

They are no doubt lovely, melodic, and harmonically interesting little pieces that are however not easy to play, but any effort the players put into these dances to make them sound successful, will be entirely worth it. The opener Invitacion, to just quote one example is set in Am, but in spite of that the accidentals are many and varied, owing to the constant if momentary changes of key that do not at all sound forced, just wonderful and engrossing. Of course they are all written in 2/4, use semi- quavers as the common note length, and are full of the Latin rhythm of semi- quaver, quaver and then semi-quaver as common throughout. You might therefore think that they are all musically the same, or repetitive, but such is Cervantes’ style that that simply is not the case, for in spite of the similarities of certain rhythmic ideas, the pieces are completely different from each other.

As guitar pieces they do use the full fingerboard but Bataini has managed to make these very pianistic works, utterly guitaristic in the best possible way, and so I can utterly recommend this entertaining, clever and very musical little volume.

Chris Dumigan

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