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El Motivo / Karttunen, Valve, Seppanen, Zebra Trio

Villoldo / Ortiz / Plaza / Kovacic / Karttunen
Release Date: 06/11/2013 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1421   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Angel VilloldoEduardo ArolasPablo OrtizJulian Plaza,   ... 
Performer:  Ernst KovacicAnssi KarttunenSteven DannTimo-Veikko Valve,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zebra Trio
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



EL MOTIVO Zebra Trio; 1 Ernst Kovacic (vn); 2 Steven Dann (va); 3 Anssi Karttunen (vc); 4 Timo-Veikko Valve (vc); 5 Jussi Seppänen (vc) ALBANY 1421 (76:09)


VILLOLDO 1 Read more class="ARIAL12bi">El Choclo. AROLAS El Marne (2 versions 1, 4-5 ). PLAZA 1 Nocturna. AGUILAR 2,4 Tengo miedo. ORTIZ 1 _and all the phonies go mad with joy. 1 Trois tangos en marge. 3,4 El jefe. 4 En Cada Verso. COBIAN 4 Nostalgias. 4,5 El Motivo revisited. MONONEN 4,5 Sateen tango. VIRTA 4,5 Sä et kyyneltä nää. DE CARO 4,5 Loca Bohemia. NIESSEN 4,5 Tango Desirée


This disc was first inspired in 2000 (according to the notes) when Pablo Ortiz played a recording of improvisations by Aníbal Troilo and Astor Piazzolla on “Volver” and “El Motivo.” Alas, although the notes seem to be in the first person, the booklet does not say which of the trio members wrote them, but in the paragraph on El Choclo (a famous tango that, in the 1950s, provided the basis for the pop tune “Kiss of Fire”), it says “ My transcription is based on a wonderfully dry and straight reading by Roberto Firpo,” and since cellist Anssi Karttunen is listed as co-composer, my detective work is complete. He wrote the notes.


The performance of this famous tune is full of dry but humorous touches, thus setting the pace for the entire album. These are Latin pieces rearranged for strings—sometimes the Zebra Trio intact, at other times different components of them or Karttunen with two other cellists—in very original and imaginative ways. As you will notice, several of these works were composed and/or arranged by Ortiz. The Zebra Trio, and its component members, do a splendid job of “playing around” with this music, doing virtually everything short of actual improvisation on it. Several non-Latin rhythms are used in their discourse, which add more interest and color to the arrangements. I was particularly taken by their use of bitonal harmonies in certain works, such as the agitated section of Ortiz’s and all the phonies go mad with joy. Karttunen describes Nocturna as “the one piece on the CD that really cannot be called sad,” but I don’t hear all the other pieces as sad. The first of Ortiz’s Trois tangos en marge, titled “Corn alone won’t do,” again returns us to clashing seconds and bitonal harmonies, while the second takes a Finnish tango and turns it into a cheerful milonga. Karttunen has arranged José Aguilar’s Tengo miedo for violin and cello, creating an unusual dialogue with a “hole” in the middle, emphasizing the two extremes of range, whereas Ortiz’s el jefe is for viola and cello.


Most of the remainder of the CD consists of various arrangements for three cellos, including the second version of Arolas’s El Marne. All are rather interesting, the second version of El Marne being particularly light and joyful, but I personally felt that the solo cello version of Nostalgias was a bit lugubrious. There was also, to my ears, a sameness of both key and rhythm in most of the three-cello pieces presented here, however ingeniously scored or well played, but taken individually many of them are quite interesting.


Overall, then, an interesting disc. If you are a fan of tangos and milongas played by string instruments, and don’t mind half the disc being given over to a cello trio, you will certainly be fascinated by it.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
El Choclo by Angel Villoldo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zebra Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Arrangement by Ortiz-Karttunen. 
2.
El Marne by Eduardo Arolas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zebra Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Argentina 
3.
and all the phonies go mad with joy by Pablo Ortiz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zebra Trio
4.
Nocturna by Julian Plaza
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zebra Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1959; Argentina 
5.
Trois tangos en marge by Pablo Ortiz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zebra Trio
6.
Tango miedo by Jose Maria Aguilar
Performer:  Ernst Kovacic (Violin), Anssi Karttunen (Cello)
7.
el jefe by Pablo Ortiz
Performer:  Steven Dann (Viola), Anssi Karttunen (Cello)
8.
Nostalgias by Juan Carlos Cobian
Performer:  Anssi Karttunen (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Argentina 
9.
El Marne by Eduardo Arolas
Performer:  Timo-Veikko Valve (Cello), Anssi Karttunen (Cello), Jussi Seppanen (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Argentina 
10.
Sateen tango by Unto Mononen
Performer:  Timo-Veikko Valve (Cello), Anssi Karttunen (Cello), Jussi Seppanen (Cello)
11.
En Cada Verso by Pablo Ortiz
Performer:  Anssi Karttunen (Cello)
12.
El Motivo revisited by Juan Carlos Cobian
Performer:  Timo-Veikko Valve (Cello), Anssi Karttunen (Cello), Jussi Seppanen (Cello)
13.
Sä et kyyneltä nää by Olavi Virta
Performer:  Timo-Veikko Valve (Cello), Anssi Karttunen (Cello), Jussi Seppanen (Cello)
14.
Loca Bohemia by Francisco De Caro
Performer:  Timo-Veikko Valve (Cello), Anssi Karttunen (Cello), Jussi Seppanen (Cello)
15.
Tango Desirée by Charly Niessen
Performer:  Timo-Veikko Valve (Cello), Anssi Karttunen (Cello), Jussi Seppanen (Cello)

Sound Samples

El choclo (arr. A. Karttunen and P. Ortiz for string trio)
El Marne (arr. Karttunen for string trio)
And all the phonies go mad with joy
Nocturna (arr. A. Karttunen for string trio)
3 Tangos en marge: No. 1. Corn alone just won't do
3 Tangos en marge: No. 2. Suomi la milonga
3 Tangos en marge: No. 3. Edelleen laitakaupungilla
Tengo miedo (arr. A. Karttunen for violin and cello)
El jefe
Nostalgias (arr. P. Ortiz for cello)
El marne (arr. P. Ortiz for string trio)
Sateen tango (arr. A. Karttunen for 3 cellos)
En cada verso
El motivo revisited (arr. P. Ortiz for string trio)
Sa et kyynelta naa (arr. A. Karttunen for string trio)
Loca Bohemia (arr. P. Ortiz for string trio)
Tango Desiree (arr. P. Ortiz for 3 cellos)

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