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Tango Argentino
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
The Last Woman;
Farewell Nonino;
Midnight in Buenos Aires;
Jacinto Chiclana;
Carlos GARDEL (1887-1935)

The Day You Love Me;
Coming Back.
Mariano MORES (b.1922)

Military Tap;
Julian PLAZA (1928-2003)

Eladia BLAZQUEZ (b.1927)

Kite-flying Dream (1957);
Carlos MOSCARDINI (b.1959)

Milonga of Confusion;
For the tilingos;
Saul COSENTINO (b.1935)

La Recoleta (1995);
Pedro LAURENZ (1902-1972)

Milonga of My Loves;
Lito VITALE (b.1961)

Milonga del 71;
Anibal Carmelo TROILO (1914-1975)

South (1948);
Victor Villadangos (guitar)
Recorded at St. John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, from 19-21 April 2001. DDD
NAXOS 8.555721[64:57]


World famous guitarist Andrès Segovia (1893-1987) is reported to have stated about the tango, "what mysterious music and what exceptional poetry." The tango’s popularity and status has fluctuated greatly over the years but is enjoying yet another international renaissance and is currently extremely fashionable especially in the UK. Although some conventionalists may disagree I find it most refreshing to hear the Latin-American tango played on the guitar instead of the more traditional bandoneón or the increasingly more commonly heard accordion.

The origin of the tango has not been answered with a definitive connection and remains an enigma. The image of the tango that has been retained is that of the dance so unashamedly sensual in character which epitomises the glamour and elegance of high society with women wearing glittering evening dresses and men wearing tuxedos with tails. However the tango most likely evolved in society’s underclass; such as the seedy brothels of Argentinean seaports; namely Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Although musical historians disagree to its exact origins it is generally accepted that the tango is borrowed from many places and cultures. Many hold the view that the tango took its rhythms from African slaves, others from native South American Indian rhythms fused with the music of the early Spanish colonists. I have an 83 year old copy of ‘Grove’ which states the origins of the tango from Mexican dance which imitated the movements of the Negro. This is all part of the mysterious magic and seduction that surround the tango.

I did not previously know any of the pieces on this new Naxos release and they provide a really fine cross-section of twentieth century Argentinean tango music. Astor Piazzolla and the word tango go together like strawberries and cream and basing all his works on the tango it is no surprise that the music of Piazzolla takes centre stage on this release with six of his works. I have to say how much Piazzolla’s The Last Woman sounds in parts like the main theme from Bart Howard’s 1954 hit song Fly me to the Moon (In other words) that Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra had considerable success with. His appealing Farewell Nonino is meditative with some Bach-like moments and his contemporary sounding and often steamy evocation Midnight in Buenos Aires shows considerable invention. My particular favourite is Lito Vitale’s engaging Milonga for its sheer invention and dance-like qualities. Other highlights include Carlos Moscardini’s contemplative, sultry and rhythmic Milonga of Confusion, Carlos Gardel’s airy and sophisticated Coming Back and the wonderfully virtuosic Military Tap by Mariano Mores for its Andalusian feel fused with jazzy syncopations. The two Julian Plaza works Melancholic and Nostalgia were the least successful for me as I found them somewhat lacking in variety and tended to drag.

The Argentinean soloist Victor Villandangos is an inspired choice for these warm and colourful tango works from his fellow-countrymen and his marvellous playing is most spacious, descriptive and expressive. He makes light work of the virtuoso demands of even the most technically challenging works such as Pedro Laurenz’s Milonga of my Loves and Mariano Mores’s Military Tap whilst still maintaining an exceptionally high degree of panache and inspirational spontaneity. Villandangos’s tone is exceptionally attractive and is assisted by the real fine sound quality.

Exceedingly appealing music exceptionally well played. Naxos have a sure-fire winner here.

Michael Cookson


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