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This Facsimile Edition includes a spiral-bound full score book for study and reference and a performance set that includes four saddle-stitched part booklets.
About the work:
Cruel Elegance is part of a collection of short, light, chamber music works collectively titled Parlor Music. These works are meant to be performed either as part of a regular chamber music concert or as ‘encore’ pieces. They are gifts to friends who over the years have performed my music extensively and the St Lawrence Quartet is such a group. Even though most of these pieces are tangos or are based on dance forms similar to the tango, they are also means of exploring ideas about idiomatic writing for particular instrumental combinations. Invariably they are virtuosic and challenging to the players while at the same time very accessible for the listeners.
The title of the present piece refers to the relentless—almost inhuman—investment of energy on stage in order to reveal the kind of beauty that is not possible any other way, a quality that is increasingly associated with St Lawrence String Quartet performances worldwide. The title also refers to vague memories from my childhood, a world ruled by a ruthless dictatorship and populated with adults who spoke and danced elegantly but whose thinly veiled predatory urges and exchanges within and without the dance filled me with fascination and fear. Even to the present day, tango has remained for me this mix of elegance and cruelty; attraction and repulsion; desire and exploitation. It is a dance that embodies the best and the worse in us and as such it is a microcosm of life itself.