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Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)

Double Concert (Hommage à Liége) (1985) [18:08]

Oscar Emilio (Cacho) TIRAO (*1941)

Conciertango Buenos Aires (1985) [22:57]

Oliviero LACAGNINA (*1951)

Concerto Serenata (Omaggio a Astor Piazzolla) (1994) [27:33]

Edoardo Catemario (guitar)  

Michael Zisman (bandoneon)

Orchestra Vincenzo Galilei/Nicola Paszkowski

rec. October 2005, Auditorium Latani, Fiesole, Italy

ARTS 47728-8 SACD HYBRID [68:50]



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As one might expect, whole concertos dedicated to the tango style and idiom dig a little deeper than shorter pieces intended for use on the dance floor. Astor Piazzolla was one who took the tango far beyond its roots, and the creation of a concerto in which guitar and bandoneon engage in solistic dialogue seems a logical extension of Piazzolla’s ambitions for the tango as concert music.


Beginning with an almost ambiguous guitar solo, the bandoneon entry provides sonic orientation, and we are soon served Piazzolla’s trademark milonga syncopations and descending figurations in both orchestra and solos. The third movement, marked Tango, is another Piazzolla fingerprint, the fugal tango, in which instrumental and orchestral entries overlap and overlay each other. This is fine music – sparing and tough, but I felt myself urging the musicians to provide greater motor-like energy. The typical bass ‘whoom’ has a natural speed which just ain’t achieved here, and so any potential excitement just seems to miss the mark. Listening to the last few minutes you realise why the impact is missing. Notes are being extended just a little too much; spending too much time developing nice tone and vibrato rather than pushing the rhythms ahead. Notes = rather than > shaped – just a little too much Corelli and not quite enough Captain.


Cacho Tirao shares Piazzolla’s Argentinian origins, but his Conciertango Buenos Aires is immediately in contrast to Piazzolla’s. It is lighter, more richly orchestrated, and coloured with a palette which includes glockenspiel and other percussion, something which in this case somehow reminds me of Ronnie Hazlehurst. Piazzolla’s influence is there in the descending lines, but Tirao’s approach incorporates Argentinian folk music and is structured as a series of small vignettes, giving the piece a naïve and fragmented, sometimes almost sentimental feel.


The Concerto Serenata by Oliveiro Lacagnina is a tribute to Piazzolla’s Mediteranean spirit, and is dedicated to the soloist on this recording. Marked Ritmico, the first movement has indeed much rhythmic power, contrasting with Tirao’s gentler voice. The second movement is a heartfelt Elegia, which betrays an Italian influence in its lyrically slow triple meter and strophic structure. Tango-Finale has a return to rhythmic forcefulness, with driving pizzicati and typical tango rhythms transplanted into an irregular 7/4 beat.


This is an interesting release containing much good music, but I do have a complaint – intonation. Edoardo Catemario’s guitar always seems to be on the brink of being out of tune, and there are some moments when it sounds more than a little dead as a result. Intervals close up or jangle suspectly on occasion, and if you have a sensitive ear it’s just not attractive. The Auditorium Latani is not a particularly generous acoustic, nor is it overly dry, but the Orchestra Vincenzo Galilei’s strings are also not always entirely wonderful when it comes to intonation. This is a minor point on this recording – most of the playing is good and this is not the kind of music where I consider glossily perfect string sound entirely necessary, but there are enough minorly dodgy moments to make me think twice about giving a glowing, unconditional recommendation. Tango lovers and Piazzolla fans will be interested in such an original programme, and I would be the last to dissuade anyone from exploring new repertoire. There is much to enjoy here, but it could have been just that little bit better.                    

Dominy Clements





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