Councell-Vargas – Gran Danzón

Martha Councell-Vargas, Assistant Professor of Flute at Western Michigan University, has assembled an album of charming Latin American music for flute. Most of these works combine European forms with Latin-inspired sounds. She was motivated by her first trip to Central America in 1996 and the charanga tradition made popular by the dance orchestras in Cuba.

Andres Sas was a Peruvian composer with Belgian-French origins. His Sonatina Fantasia combines a traditional European sonatina form with traditional Peruvian pentatonic melodies. The tone colors Councell-Vargas creates in the third movement in particular are lovely.

Transparencias by Mexican composer Eduardo Gamboa was originally written for flute and strings and dedicated to Tadeu Coelho. This version has been arranged for flute and piano. This work is inspired by traditional Mexican folk music and features different types of Latin American rhythms. It’s fascinating to trace the different rhythmic patterns as they move between the flute and piano. 

Christopher Caliendo’s Sonata No. 7 for Flute and Piano (subtitled “The Jazz Sonata”) also uses a traditional European multi-movement sonatina form but incorporates jazz. In this way it resembles the Sas.

However, instead of focusing on Peruvian melodies, this piece incorporates jazz sounds of North America. Highly rhythmic sections contrast with beautifully-executed melodies.

Paquito D’Rivera’s Gran Danzón, “The Bel-Air Concerto,” again combines European form (in this case, concerto form) with Latin American sounds (in this case, the national dance of Cuba, danzón). This is the chamber version, which includes flute, piano, and percussion.

Overall, this is a fun, energetic album. The playing is excellent and the tone colors are truly enchanting. Learn more about Martha Councell-Vargas and her work at her website,

Gran Danzón
Blue Griffin Recording
Martha Councell-Vargas, flute
Richard Steinbach, piano
Olman Piedra, percussion

Andres Sas         Sonatina – Fantasia
I.    Fantasia
II.    Elegia
III.    Danza

Eduardo Gamboa     Transparencias
I.     Torito
II.    Arrullo
III.    Rompe
IV.    Jarabe

Christopher Caliendo    Flute Sonata No. 7 “The Jazz Sonata”
I.    Andante un poco allegretto
II.    Andante rapsodia
III.    Moderato con fuoco

Paquito D’Rivera    Gran Danzón