Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Music for bandoneón and violin
Alicia Petronilli - bandoneón
Søren Elbæk - violin
Kontrapunkt 32313 [57.23]

The widening of genres accepted into the realm of 'classical' music over the last few years has doubtless had the effect of broadening the knowledge and enthusiasms of CD collectors, who had previously believed themselves to be 'purely classical'. Lovers of 'serious music' (pejorative name but one cannot think of a better one) are constantly on the look out for challenging and intellectually satisfying new fields to explore. Jazz, for many years now, has been a fruitful hunting ground as was rock music, particularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Largely through the works of Astor Piazzolla (1921 - 1992) the South American tango has become increasingly valued as art music, with CD releases appearing almost every month from a variety of artists and instrumental line-ups. Clearly there is a market.

If you are already a 'fan' of this genre you should know straightaway that this album is well played, reasonably well recorded and contains expert arrangements, many by Alicia Petronilli herself, clearly a leading performer of the bandoneón. The bandoneón is a large, fully chromatic version of the concertina and was invented by Heinrich Band (1821 - 1860) in Krefeld. You will want to add this CD to your collection.

For the rest of us, either new to the tango phenomenon or still resistant, there are still a number of important questions that need answering. Of the 16 tracks on this CD, 6 are Piazzolla compositions. They neither rise above the other works presented here, nor offer much in the way of development, colour or distinctive melodic interest. Pleasant enough, to be sure, but hardly likely to sustain concentrated interest or demand re-hearings. In one or two cases, 'dull' would not be too strong a condemnatory word to use. Piazzolla's Tanti Anni Prima does contain a genuinely attractive melody, but in an otherwise 'nice- enough' CD for background listening or to be played in cafés, there is only one track which really stands out. Standing the test of time, the tango that everyone knows Jealousy (composed by Jacob Gade and here arranged by Pepe Ferrer) suddenly acts as a wake-up-call for Elbæk and Petronilli who start with an extraordinary violin cadenza played with marvellous virtuosity (indeed it could come straight out of a first movement cadenza of a late nineteenth century violin concerto) and then go on to give the music all the energy and style that the tango demands. Ferrer has created what is, in effect, a set of variations, all encapsulated within the short span of 4.30.

But one swallow does not a summer make and with a rather harsh and close recording (the violin a little backward, bathed in what appears to be added artificial reverberation), and one of the least attractive covers I have yet seen on a professionally released CD, Tango Intimo can, for most of us, be safely given a miss.


Simon Foster


If in difficulties getting the disc it can be obtained in the UK direct from Discovery at:

Discovery Records Ltd
phone 01672 563931
fax 01672 563934  
or from Kontrapunkt at

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