Everyone knows that it takes "two
to tango" but perhaps the origin
of the tango – a backstreet dance from
Argentina – is a little more obscure.
All but one of these pieces is an arrangement
of tango-inspired works by the Argentinian
composer Piazzolla for the cello/piano
twosome. Presumably they were originally
conceived for larger forces although
that is not made clear in the documentation.
José Bragato, cellist and long
time friend of the composer made the
arrangements for the present performer.
He also contributes the remaining work
– Graciela y Buenos Aires, a
piece which was reputedly written in
a single day as a birthday present for
a colleague’s daughter. The programme
cleverly juxtaposes the short and riotous
with passionate slow-burners.
to take the tango away from the back
street into the concert halls. He craved
respect from the music establishment
but met with little critical acclaim.
After studying in Paris with Nadia Boulanger
he returned to his Latin American roots
to produce music which covers a whole
range of emotions. The disc begins with
the poignant Oblivion, apparently
composed for an Italian version of Pirandello’s
Henry IV. Esqualo is much
more obviously dance music in a faster
tempo and it opens with an unholy sounding
slide upwards then downwards that almost
sounds like a siren. Adios Nonino
is the most profound piece here, an
elegy written after the death of Piazzolla’s
father. Beginning rather uncertainly
with a long cello solo, the emotions
then pour out in long passages of double-stopping
before the piano enters and a more consolatory
mood is achieved. Faster dance music
is weaved into the structure before
the deeply-felt conclusion.
we are once again moving quickly around
the dance hall before Mumuki returns
us to a much more intimate environment.
Milonga en Re is quixotic and
followed by Bragato’s solitary composition.
This is in two parts, initially reflective
and then recreating a birthday party
atmosphere. The Angel Suite is
in four movements and derives from music
written for a 1970s television series
called The Angel’s Boutique.
The concluding Resurreccion del Angel
is notable for its passion and increasing
urgency. The final work, Ave Maria
was originally film music. It is in
a simpler vein and provides a natural
conclusion to the programme.
Eduardo Vassallo was
born in Buenos Aires in 1961 and for
the past 15 years has been co-principal
cellist with the City of Birmingham
Symphony Orchestra. He obviously has
this music in his soul, as does his
compatriot Cristina Filoso. Their performances
live and breathe the air of the music
and are unlikely to be surpassed. They
are well-balanced in a natural sounding
recording. The documentation is rather
disappointing; the essay jumps around
and surely could have been more informative
about the origins of the music. The
back liner is constructed in a way that
erroneously appears to indicate that
Ave Maria is part of the Angel
Suite. But these are fairly small
blots – overall this is a disc to treasure.
"This music has
to have dirt!" says Eduardo Vassallo.
It also has atmosphere, passion and
resonances from around the world and
across the ages. Essential listening.
Patrick C Waller