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Ástor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Milonga del Ángel (1974) [6:18]
Verano Porteño (1972) [8:58]
Chiquilín de Bachín (1968) [4:49]
Libertango (1974) [2:46]
Oblivion [3:53]
Balada para un Loco (1969) [4:29]
María de Buenos Aires Suite (1968) [20:48]
Enrique Moratalla (vocals); Maria Rey-Joly (soprano); Horacio Ferrer (reciter, sung and spoken texts); Versus Ensemble
rec. Caja Rural Auditorium, Granada, Spain, 26-29 December 2006 except Milonga de la Anunciación from María de Buenos Aires Suite, rec. live, Tango World Meeting, Valparaiso, Chile, January 2007 
Programme note in English
NAXOS 8.570523 [52:15]
Experience Classicsonline

This CD offers nothing new. It includes many of Piazzolla’s best-known works – Milonga del Ángel, Libertango, Verano Porteño and the ubiquitous Oblivion, which must be one of the most arranged pieces of all time. And I have always loved that sense of being almost lulled into the Bach Arioso in Verano Porteño! The real piece of interest here is the suite from the chamber opera María de Buenos Aires, from which five numbers are included. Oddly, the last of them is from a completely different performance from the other four. This is not as incongruous as it might seem, however, as I could discern almost no difference between the sound on this track and those that had gone before it.
The arrangements on this disc are well done for the ensemble of guitar, violin, saxophone, piano and double bass, although I missed the sound of Piazzolla’s own instrument, the bandoneón. None of the performances lacks punch, however. The Versus Ensemble plays extremely well and idiomatically and I found the whole experience rather enjoyable. I enjoyed the vocals of Enrique Moratalla in Chiquilín de Bachín, Balada para un loco and the Milonga Carrieguera from the María de Buenos Aires suite but found soprano María Rey-Joly betraying her opera house roots far too much for this kind of music. It was also slightly odd to hear what sounded to me like Castilian Spanish instead of the South American dialect I thought they might have made an effort to emulate.

María de Buenos Aires was a collaboration between Piazzolla and Horacio Ferrer (as was the Balada para un Loco) and it is good to hear his contribution as the Duende (a kind of spiritual elf) – the role Ferrer created for himself - in the final number on this disc, Milonga de la Anunciación.
The recording is excellent throughout, with the right degree of closeness befitting the music and seems to have been produced by the performers themselves. The CD timing is not generous at 52:15 and the booklet is extremely poor; hardly any information on the music, precious little about the performers and no texts whatsoever. I really think Naxos should have done better with this one.
Derek Warby

see also review by Jonathan Woolf



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