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Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Tango Sensations
1. Butcher's Death [2:17]
2. C'est l'Amour [5:49]
3. Michelangelo [3:04]
4. Milonga del Angel [4:59]
5. Fuga [3:07]
6. Grela [3:50]
7. Oblivion [4:47]
8. Escualo [3:19]
9. Lo que vendra  [3:46]
10. La Casita de mis Viejos [2:23]
11. Loca Bohemia [2:24]
Five Tango Sensations:
12. I. Asleep [5:46]
13. II. Loving [5:33]
14. III. Anxiety [4:47]
15. IV. Despertar [6:49]
16. V. Fear [4:08]
17. Chiliquin de Bachin/Ballada para un Loco [4:46]
Casal Quartett (Rachel Rosina Späth (violin); Markus Fleck (violin); Dominik Fischer (viola); Andreas Fleck (cello)) (1-9; 12-17); Michael Zisman (bandoneon) (9-16); Nina Janssen (clarinet) (17)
rec. Kirche Bachs/CH, September/October 2003
SOLO MUSICA SM106 [71:41] 


Experience Classicsonline

Interest in Piazzolla's music is constantly on the increase; this is the third CD that has come my way during the last couple of years. It is also the first with a string quartet playing his music. Piazzolla didn't compose much for that medium, but in the late 1980s he met the Kronos-Quartet and this resulted in two works: Four for Tango and Five Tango Sensations. The latter is with bandoneon and is a piece that he also recorded with the Kronos. It is also the only music on this CD - together with tracks 10 and 11, which are bandoneon solos - that are Piazzolla originals. The rest of the music was arranged by violinist Markus Fleck, except Milonga del Angel (tr. 4), which is an arrangement by Sergej Drabkin.

The Five Tango Sensations were very much written with the bandoneon as the centre of attraction with the strings primarily serving as backdrop. It is true that there are some string solos and in the rhythmic pieces, Anxiety and Fear, the strings are required to play what in jazz terms could be labelled riffs. The first two movements, Asleep and Loving, are, as the titles indicate, slow and soft. Despertar is gloomy with a long yearning violin solo, and the final movement, Fear, starts in high spirits, gradually becoming more and more frenetic and dissonant. 

The arrangements for string quartet alone are in several cases rather artful and intricately constructed. The Fuga with its jagged rhythms is clearly related to both Bach and Bartók. Michelangelo is partly atonal while Drabkin's sole arrangement, Milonga del Angel, is the most 'traditional' tango music on the disc. String quartet lovers will find a lot to admire here, even though I believe that Piazzolla might have had something less sophisticated in mind. The playing is excellent and Michael Zisman  has the right rhythmic lilt; Piazzolla would have been deeply satisfied. In the final number - the encore if you like - clarinettist Nina Janssen joins the quartet, playing with beautiful tone and warmth. The recording is worthy of the occasion and Markus Fleck's liner-notes shed some light on the project. 

The standard string quartet repertoire will, I hope, never become redundant, but it is always fascinating to make discoveries off-the-beaten-track. I hope the CasalQuartett will go on exploring untrodden paths. 

Göran Forsling 



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