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Tango Infinito
Ulysses PASSARELLA (b.1955)

Suite Rioplatense [12.47]
Preludio y Milonga [6.55]
Pieza Rioplatense No.2 [4.27]
Desolación (1997-2002) [11.41]
Aníbal TROILO (1914-1975)

Sur (arranged by H Ulysses PASSARELLA) [5.39]
Lucio DEMARE (1906-1974)

Malena (arranged by H Ulysses PASSARELLA) [3.33]
Acho MANZI (b.1933)

El ultimo organito (arranged by Jessica KUHN) [4.22]
Juarés Lamarque PONS (1917-1982)

Tres Ritmicas de Tango (orchestrated by H Ulysses PASSARELLA) [13.17]
Recitations of poems by Homero Manzi by Acho Manzi
Jessica Kuhn (cello)
Anna Stümke and Ferenc Kölcze (violins)
Clarissa Miller (viola)
Thomas Herbst (bass)
Recorded Marktoberdorf, December 2004
ANTES EDITION BM CD 31.9214 [69.10]

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We all know that there’s life beyond Piazzolla for the concert tango and here’s a selection further to cement that thought. Argentina and Uruguay are both represented and one of the most prominent of the composers is H Ulysses Passarella who’s responsible for original compositions and arrangements.

His Suite Rioplatense is one of the weightiest pieces here, an undated, three-movement work. It takes in rather brusque ostinati and swirling strings – played by the quintet with verve – and touches on the desolate in the Corale second movement. Here we also some hear some percussive colour and a fine sense of dramatic diminuendi. The sound world here is dry and parched, with the viola and cello-leader deliberately sour toned and hoarsely evocative. The fugal finale is a pleasing, teasing affair, rich and tensile but with room for a cadential passage for the cello, and then back to some back-to where-we-started ostinati for the final section.

Melancholy is never far from the Tango as we hear in Troilo’s Sur in this arrangement by Passarella. The sense of tristesse gradually increases in tension and tempo over bass pizzicati and generates a strong effect. Demare’s Melena is textually full of slithering strings, sustained melodic lines and abrasive abrupt pizzicati. The slower, more pliant tango, in this arrangement by cellist-leader Jessica Kuhn’s arrangement, is exemplified best by Manzi’s El ultimo organito – slow, sinuous and highly effective. One of the pieces I most admired was Passarella’s Preludio y Milonga, which has an in-built almost hypnotic charge though his Pieza Rioplatense No.2 has a bold sense of style and drama with whistling violins over the viola’s melody line.

Juarés Lamarque Pons contributes Tres Ritmicas de Tango once more mediated by Passarella’s arrangement. Whilst the second of the three has its own concentrated melancholia it’s the third that most engages – bold unison writing, with a touch of the tango, slapped bass and running jazz lines and a cornucopic sense of quasi-minimalism, car horns and other impedimenta. Another feature of the disc is the readings from Homero Manzi’s poems, which are interspersed throughout the programme. They’re read by Acho Manzi and give a broader evocation of the seedbeds of inspiration that animated some of these compositions.

There’s enough variety here to keep "tango surfeit" at bay even if you find, as I do, that a little of it - and Piazzolla - goes a very long way. Even so it must be said that none of the pieces here matches his stunning memorability and emotional directness of utterance, though the performances are committed and commanding.

Jonathan Woolf


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