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Astor Piazzolla - The Next Tango

Astor Piazzolla / Pierri / Steinberg
Release Date: 06/12/2007 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000875509  
Composer:  Astor Piazzolla
Performer:  Alvaro PierriAstor Piazzolla
Conductor:  Pinchas Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio OrchestraAstor Piazzolla Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

PIAZZOLLA Concerto for Guitar, Bandoneón, and String Orchestra. 1 Concerto for Bandoneón, String Orchestra, and Percussion. 2 Adiós nonino 3 Astor Piazzolla (bdn); Alvaro Pierri (gtr); 1 Astor Piazzolla’s Qrt; 3 Pinchas Steinberg, cond; 1,2 Cologne RO Read more class="SUPER12">1,2 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 000875509 (DVD: 88:00)

Astor Piazzolla was a composer who found endless possibilities in the tango, molding it to his whim to express passion or poignancy. His music could be lyrical, sentimental, or boldly extroverted, and included other influences—he loved classical music (not surprising in a student of Ginastera and Boulanger) and jazz—but it’s the tango that pervades his creative output and defines his musical identity. “The Next Tango” (1986) includes performances of significant Piazzolla pieces as well as an extended reminiscence by the composer. Piazzolla appears as a soloist in the concertos and in Adiós nonino , and there are numerous examples of him performing with his quintet. Piazzolla was a bandoneón virtuoso: it’s a pleasure to watch him play this reputedly difficult cousin of the accordion with such dexterity and feeling. Fully extended, the bandoneón resembles an enormous caterpillar: with a tail on one end and a head spouting drolleries on the other, it would be an amusing Lewis Carroll hybrid. Piazzolla plays standing, a small platform allowing him to lift one knee to support the cumbersome beast. Invented in Germany and intended to take the place of the harmonium in church, the bandoneón abandoned its holy vocation to embrace, in the eyes of some, a more decadent destiny: its reedy voice is today inextricably linked with the tango—a marriage made in heaven.

The music is typical Piazzolla, stamped with insinuating ostinatos that propel the music irresistibly forward, strong accents, nostalgic interludes for bandoneón, and lush string-writing that recalls the tangos of Carlos Gardel. The “Double” Concerto for Guitar and Bandoneón is subdued in its dynamic range, perhaps out of respect for the soft voice of the guitar, but the dancing vivacity of the finale is captivating. The opening, a long prelude for guitar, is beautifully played and thoughtfully photographed. Piazzolla’s tango inspirations are not immediately apparent in the introduction, but gradually coalesce out of various allusive fragments before the bandoneón entrance. By contrast, the Concerto for Bandoneón, String Orchestra, and Percussion plunges directly into a dramatic and dynamically forceful milieu. This Concerto’s title might lead the listener to expect a large number of scraped, pounded, shaken, or stirred instruments, both exotic and familiar, but Piazzolla’s percussion section is mostly represented by timpani and piano. A fair bit of writing for harp leavens the monochromatic sound of the string orchestra, but otherwise it’s the bandoneón that claims the spotlight. Piazzolla plays his solos with the engaging spontaneity of a street performer; when the orchestra joins him, it’s to outline the harmonies within which his rhapsodic flights take wing. The intense finale drives towards a lyrical interlude, after which Piazzolla hypnotically—with characteristic obsessive accentuation and repetition—increases the tension as the concerto moves towards its conclusion. Adiós nonino shares the tripartite form of the two concertos: the central “song” would have been at home in the tango-mad world of Piazzolla’s youth. The quintet presents Piazzolla’s music in a different, but no less absorbing light. The piano is a more forceful presence than in the orchestral pieces, and the violin, no longer lost in a string section, imparts an incisive clarity. Even though these chamber performances follow a score, they resonate with the fresh immediacy of improvisation.

Over the years Piazzolla has become the focus of a cottage industry, with many recordings in the classical and jazz arenas dedicated to preserving his legacy. “The Next Tango” brings us his reflections about his career, charms us with his personality and anecdotes, and documents some outstanding performances. The camerawork throughout is excellent and the creative effects are memorable without threatening the flow of the program. This is an exceptional DVD and essential viewing for anyone interested in Piazzolla and his music.

FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper

A Film by José Montes-Baquer

Picture Format: 4:3
Original Language: Spanish
Subtitles: German/English/French/Chinese
A production of UNITEL, Munich

* Bonus material:: Astor Piazzolla in conversation and in concert interviewed by Andrés Salcedo.
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Bandoneon and Guitar by Astor Piazzolla
Performer:  Alvaro Pierri (Guitar), Astor Piazzolla (Bandoneon)
Conductor:  Pinchas Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; Argentina 
Concerto for Bandoneon by Astor Piazzolla
Performer:  Astor Piazzolla (Bandoneon)
Conductor:  Pinchas Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; Argentina 
Adios nonino by Astor Piazzolla
Performer:  Astor Piazzolla (Bandoneon)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Astor Piazzolla Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; Argentina 

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