Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca defined “Duende” as “a power, not a work.” He adds “It is a struggle, not a thought. I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, ‘The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning this: it is not a question of ability, but of true, living style, of blood, of the most ancient culture, of spontaneous creation.”
Duende, Fantasy For Chamber Ensemble was commissioned by the Mizzou New Music Ensemble for their 2012-13 season. It brings raw elements of three flamenco styles: saeta, soleá, and bulerías. These three styles articulate the composition for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano, and two percussionists (one of them solely handclapping – or palmas, as it is called in flamenco). From the almost improvisatorial and sober saeta (a Holy Week processional cante jondo – deep singing, from the South of Spain), the soleá develops, based on the basic flamenco compass –style/meter- of 12/8 (as 6/8 plus 3/4). Tempo progressively evolves in this lyrical section into the last part of the composition, bulerías, where the extrovert and rhythmically exuberant dance takes, like an ancient spirit over the music and the musicians and the scene becomes a flamenco gathering of celebration and enthusiasm, like an improvised tablao flamenco.