El Cimarrón, one of Henze's major and most profound musical statements, makes a timely appearance to coincide with the bicentenary of the bill outlawing slavery in the British Empire. In his 'recital for four musicians', Henze tells the story of Esteban Montejo, an escaped Cuban slave who, at the age of 104, was interviewed extensively about his life by the Cuban ethnologist
and writer Miguel Barnet. In Henze's composition, there is a narrative gesture that derives from Esteban Montejo's speaking style, which was captured on tape and there is the basso continuo, the musical foundation from which the whole thing grows and produces its new blossoms. It was derived from and developed on ancient African (Congolese-Cuban) percussion music.
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