A Postcard from Buenos Aires (2001)

Original version: violin, piano
Trio version (2004) violin, cello, piano
10 min.

One of the more expensive propositions that one can undertake as a tourist in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the mailing of a postcard. For starters, the nicer cards tend to be quite costly. One also has to add the cost of a bus ticket to the post office, by no means easy to find (neither the bus nor the post office), as well as express postage, which is the only way to ensure that the card will leave the country before you do. One can end up spending a comparatively ridiculous amount of money on what should otherwise be a very simple task.

There is a great deal of ambiguity surrounding the nature of the Argentinian tango. Quite often, pieces widely thought to be tangos are actually derived from Brazilian or Cuban rhythms. Even other Argentinian dances, like the milonga, are frequently mistaken for tangos. One of the most misleading is the stylized habanera so memorably evoked by Bizet, from whose characteristic rhythmic pattern a whole group of Latin American dances evolved, including the tango. In addition, newer styles like tango nuevo, which blend influences, make it all the more difficult to distinguish the true tango.

None of this confusion, however, seems to affect the cost of mailing a postcard from Buenos Aires.

A Postcard from Buenos Aires was written for violinist Gabrielle Painter. The piano trio version was adapted at her request for the Szabó Trio.