Music for bandoneón and
Alicia Petronilli -
Søren Elbæk -
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.
If in difficulties getting the disc it can be obtained in the UK direct from
Discovery Records Ltd
phone 01672 563931
fax 01672 563934
or from Kontrapunkt at www.steeplechase.dk/