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Tango in Blue
José SEREBRIER (b 1938)

Tango in Blue (2001) [3:09]
Casi un Tango (2002) [5:16] *
Samuel BARBER (1910 – 1981)

Hesitation – Tango (1952) [3:39]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921 – 1992)

Oblivion [4:24] +
Tangazo [12:32]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882 – 1971)

Tango (1940, orch 1953) [3:55]
Erik SATIE (1886 – 1971) orch José SEREBRIER (b 1938)

Tango Perpétuel (1914) [3:26]
Morton GOULD (1913 – 1996)

Tango from 'Stringmusic' (1993) [4:08]
Tango from American Symphonette No.4 'Latin American' (1990) [5:26]
Kurt WEILL (1900 – 1950)

Matrosen-Tango from 'Happy End' (1929) [4:53] #
Youkali (1935) [5:49] #
Fernando CONDON (b 1955)

Impresiones sobre Ástor (1995/2002) [8:45] + §
Jacob GADE (1879 – 1963)

Tango Jalousie [3:57]
Gerardo MATOS RODRÍGUEZ (1897 – 1948) orch Toto DAMARIO

La Cumparsita [3:26] +
Enrique Tellería (bandoneón) +, Carole Farley (soprano ) #, Molly Judson (cor anglais) *, Damián Martínez (cello) and Daniel Espasa (piano) §,
Orquestra Simfónica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya/José Serebrier.
Rec. Teatre-Auditori Sant Cugat, Barcelona, Spain, 7-10 July 2003. DDD
BIS BIS-CD-1175 [74:51]

I really wish I could be excited about this album. There is nothing really wrong with it – in fact there are a number of felicities, as noted below. Ultimately, though, I found the disc as a whole unsatisfying. Perhaps I am just not in tune with the spirit of the tango.

It is the spirit of the tango, rather than the tango itself, that is on show here. Serebrier has assembled a collection of music that draws on or is inspired by the traditional dance form. I am tempted to call these pieces tango-rhapsodies, but this description would fit only some of the pieces. Whatever you call them, they are well played, well recorded and, for the most part, enjoyable.

The disc opens with the title track; a quirky, humorous offering from the conductor/composer. Serebrier's second piece, Casi un Tango, appears a few tracks later and is more subdued and rhapsodic. I also liked his arrangement of Satie's Tango Perpétuel. These three contributions from Serebrier are world premiere recordings. For fans of this talented composer, this will be reason enough to buy the disc, and I would be loath to stand in their way.

There are other highlights. Barber's Hesitation – Tango has a nice sweep to it, a bitter-sweet big tune and horns to the fore. Morton Gould's two contributions are tuneful and intelligently put together, although they do not inscribe themselves on one's memory. The two Piazzolla tracks are exquisite and Tellería's bandoneón is ear-catching in the first of these (Oblivion) as well as in the items by Condon and Matos Rodríguez.

A couple of odd programming choices detract from the whole. Chief among these are the two Kurt Weill items. Among the other pieces, Weill's sound gawky and angular. This is not a criticism of his compositions; indeed, he wrote them that way for dramatic effect. The problem is that neither of these "tangos" fits idiomatically with the surrounding tracks, and Carole Farley sounds simply dreadful in the Matrosen-Tango. Her delivery may make for effective Brechtian drama, but coming between the first of Gould's two tuneful tangos and her husband's Casi un Tango, the effect is jarring and breaks the mood. Her later contribution in the second Weill track is less coarse, but still does not seem to fit. The famous Gade Tango Jalousie also sounds out of place – a pretty and popular film tune among more rhapsodic and exploratory works.

As noted above, Serebrier's fans will want to hear this disc, and will be well rewarded. Those with a more general interest - and a more sympathetic ear than mine - may also find music to enjoy here, but they are unlikely to find this album essential.

Tim Perry



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