Achieving worldwide fame by the middle of the 20th century, the genre Tango has developed beyond “only” dance music long time ago. Argentine tango won incredible popularity thanks to the works of Astor Piazzolla, who managed to create his own unique style based on tango intonations. However, we might also say that exactly the demand for Argentine tango has greatly contributed to the world fame of Astor Piazzolla.
Interest in Tango is largely determined by vivid imagery and emotional expressiveness allied with restraint of the rhythmic pattern. Expressive power of the tango language inspired many composers, including Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie, John Cage, Alfred Schnittke, etc.
"Dance by candlelight" for a string quartet by Michelle Diehl is a little drama piece with great meaning. This short story, expressed by the author on just several pages, tells us about the lifetime of a tremulous human soul. After all, life is just a brief moment in time we must fill with emotions, feelings, memories...
The piece opens with a cello monologue full of feeling of unbearable waiting, pausing for a while and then turning into the characteristic rhythm of tango, that of a troubled heartbeat. Then the main theme is introduced, played now by a solo violin, now by a violin and viola duo. The interval of a minor ninth underlying the main theme fills it with inexpressible languor and aching sorrow. Rhythmic dialogue and intonational constraint of the first section give way to the light polyrhythm and melodiousness of long duration in the second section. Due to the repetition of the theme, the simple harmonic accompaniment and its catchy melody, this work can be reckoned among light popular music compositions.
Throughout the piece, the strings sing about unfulfilled dreams, each movement of the bow makes us feel passion. As Voltaire once said, "passion is the wind, bellying the sails of a ship. It sometimes sinks it, but without it, the ship could not swim."
The candles burn out gradually, and suddenly, the sounds of the string quartet die away. And only one question remains: is it just this dance or is the whole life over? This is the mystery of this piece. After all, tango is much more than a pattern of dance moves.