Caramba was written when William Blezard was on the other side of the world. Apparently he began writing it during a tour of New Zealand.
Yet the musical basis of this work is about as far away from Kiwi culture as you can get. Apparently the word 'Caramba' is Spanish for ‘goodness me’ or perhaps more colloquially ‘golly!’ Of course it nearly rhymes with ‘Rumba’ which is what this work is more or less based upon. The ‘more or less’ includes the tango and the havanaise which, as Rob Barnett has pointed out has ‘a sultriness that has about it enough of the sea air to keep things falling into Siesta.’ The entire work has an exotic feel to it that is so suggestive of things Spanish or Latin American. This is helped by the extensive use of percussion and of course the brass is pure Latin American dance style. The demanding piano part features as an almost ‘concertante.’
Perhaps the obvious comparison would be to Constant Lambert’s Rio Grande. However on my first hearing of this work, I thought of the first movement of Malcolm Arnold’s Fourth Symphony. For the life of me I cannot understand why this work is not a great ‘Proms’ favourite or regularly played as an encore. It has all the hallmarks of a great piece of concert music that pleases as well as excites.
Caramba on White Line 2133