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Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Sinfonia Buenos Aires, Op. 15 (1951) [25:55]
Concerto for Bandoneón, String Orchestra, and Percussion (1979) [22:10] Mar del Plato 70 (c. 1965) (arranged for symphony
orchestra, José Carli, 1995) [3:29] Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (1965-1969) (arranged
for symphony orchestra, Carlos Franzetti, 1989) [19:05]
Juan José Mosalini
Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen/Gabriel Castagna
rec. Studio of Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen,
Germany, 31 March-4 April 2006. CHANDOS
composer Piazzolla is famous for his tangos. To typical classical
music listeners he is probably most often heard in small
pieces for piano or guitar. This disc — the second in a series
of the composer’s orchestral works, of which I have not heard
the first — is stunning proof that there is more to him than
tangos. Yes, Piazzolla is a serious composer.
movement from popular music to large-scale classical works
was a calculated one on Piazzolla’s part. The Sinfonia
Buenos Aires was the first fruit of this effort.
Its twenty-five minute length, as well as its frequent use
of woodwind color, place it in the same realm as Hindemith’s
and Stravinsky’s forays into the genre. It is a highly dramatic
piece, building up brass crescendos and percussion outbursts
punctuated by elegies in the strings and lower winds.
bandoneón is, according to the liner notes, “a fiendishly
difficult member of the accordion family” on which Piazzolla
became “the world’s leading virtuoso.” Juan José Mosalini,
the soloist in the Concerto in this recording,
must surely be considered a present-day contender for this
title. Listeners will not forget the folk origins of the
instrument: this is the composition on the disc that will
most call to mind a sultry Buenos Aires night club. Yet Piazzolla’s
writing and Mosalini’s playing make this truly a virtuoso
concerto, rather than merely an evocative curiosity.
Mar del Plato 70 is a short, energetic symphonic dance inspired
by the ocean resort area where the composer was born. Cuatro
Estaciones Porteñas (roughly, “four seasons in Buenos
Aires”) shows little musical connection to Vivaldi’s work.
Though originally written for his tango band, this work sounds
like compelling film music. It consists of four emotional
and at times dramatic vignettes. One could imagine it as
music to anchor and carry us through a story whose plot we
do not know.
might wonder whether the Württemburgische Philharmonie Reutlingen,
whose very name drips with Germnanness, has the feeling to
pull off this South American music. No worries. Their palette
of colors is broad, with each hue sharply-etched. Most importantly,
they sound like they were born with the rhythmic snap and
pulse necessary for this music.
conductor and musicologist Gabriel Castagna directs the whole
effort with passion and expertise, as well as contributing
to the booklet notes. I hope that Chandos keeps him on board
for further recordings.
here but the concerto is a world premiere recording. That,
if I didn’t know better regarding the conservatism of most
orchestral programming, would be shocking. Each piece here
would be an exciting, audience-friendly addition to a concert
program. Fans of accessible 20th century music
need to have this disc, and I will eagerly seek out the first
volume for my collection.