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"'Tango in Blue' was written during the long overnight flight from New York to Montevideo, as an impromptu gift for the National Orchestra of Uruguay, OSSODRE, who had invited me to conduct their 75th anniversary concert. It didn't have a title, and we performed it as an encore. When I asked the public for title suggestions, I was inundated with names, none of which seemed appropriate. For a while I called it 'Last Tango Before Sunrise,' which seemed to capture the character of the piece, but it still didn't seem quite right. My favorite title was 'Blue Tango,' but I was reminded that there are at least two pieces with that title already. Then a friend suggested a compromise, which I liked best, and 'Tando in Blue' was born.
The first four notes are a direct quote from the final four notes of my 'Partita' (Symphony No. 2), almost as if I was saying that there's where I left off and I am back. Written soon after my arrival in the United States, 'Partita' was one of the few compositions in which I used Latin American rhythms and melodic turns. After writing experimental works during the sixties and seventies, it was a challenge to go back to basics, and write a simple tune, a sort of popular piece for concert use. I had fun composing 'Tango in Blue,' and was thrilled to find it so successful. After Montevideo, it was played in Lima and later in Bueno Aires and many other cities. At my publisher's request, I wrote several versions, for violin and piano, string quartet, string orchestra, and this version for flute and strings or flute and piano, in which the more elaborate solo line highlights the flute's agility." (José Serebrier)