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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Tango Romances
Astor PIAZZOLLA
(1921-1992)

Four Seasons of Buenos Aires:
Primavera Porteña [4:28]*
Verano Porteño [6:28]*
Otono Porteño [6:03]*
Invierno Porteño [6:15]*
Oblivion [4:03]*
Le Grand Tango [11:14]
José BRAGATO (b. 1915)

Milontan (5:47]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)

Revolucionario [4:59]*
La Muerte Del Angel [3:22]*
* arranged by José Bragato
Devich Trio: Hanna Devich (piano); Sarah Oates (violin); Jasper Havelaar (cello)
rec. 19-21 February 2007, Galaxy Studios, Mol, Belgium
CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72178 [52:46]
Experience Classicsonline

The Devich Trio brings together a Hungarian pianist - daughter of violinist Sandor Devich, who played with the Bartok Quartet for some twenty five years - a South African violinist and a cellist from Holland. They have been playing as an ensemble since 2003. Their first two CDs, issued as The Czech Legacy I and II, made up of works by Dvořák, Novak, Suk and Smetana, CDs which were critically well received. Here on their third CD they turn their attention to the rather different territory of the nuevo tango. They play works by Piazzolla in trio arrangements by José Bragato, Piazzolla’s ‘Le Grand Tango’ (for cello and piano), and Bragato’s ‘Milontan’ (originally written for the cellist Christine Walevska).

In the CD booklet Hannah Devich explains how, having come across Bragato’s trio arrangement of ‘Primavera Porteña’ - originally scored by Piazzolla for bandonéon, violin, piano and guitar - the trio began to use it as an encore. Out of that grew a desire – encouraged by their classical coach, the violinist Istvan Parkanyi – to record an entire CD of such material.

The choice was a sensible one and has produced a thoroughly enjoyable CD. The Devich Trio play the music with great discipline and passion, and with an obvious sense of shared pleasure. Piazzolla’s ‘Four Seasons’ works very well indeed in this trio arrangement. This particular set of compositions by Piazzolla - not originally conceived as a set, ‘Verano porteño being originally written as a free-standing piece, the other three only added later as an afterthought – has none of the pictorial dimensions of the Vivaldi set to which its title so obviously alludes. Vivaldi may give us the birdsong and bagpipes of spring, the harvest dances and huntsmen of autumn; Piazzolla’s music represents an emotional and somatic landscape not an outer one. All his seasons are urban, set, it seems, in stiflingly hot interiors, all governed by intense sensuality and, paradoxically by a kind of classicism which contains and orders potentially violent emotions. The results are complex music, sublimated tangos as it were, and the Devich Trio plays them with a gratifying responsiveness to both the classicism and the sensuality.

‘Oblivion’ has a quiet melancholy that compels attention and in ‘Le Grand Tango’ Jaspar Havelaar is excellent, standing up to comparison with some of the best of his distinguished predecessors; indeed Havelaar’s playing throughout the CD is richly expressive. I’m not sure that ‘Revolucionario’ works quite so well in this arrangement; for all the efforts of the trio there’s a certain relative deficiency in sheer impact. ‘La Muerta del Ángel’, the third of four pieces which Piazzolla wrote for Alberto Rodriguez Nuñoz’ 1962 play Tango del Ángel, in which the protective angel is killed in a knife fight; again one is aware of a certain loss of instrumental colour and passion, for all the skill of José Bragato’s arrangement (and the fierceness of Sarah Oates’ violin playing).

Bragato is one of the most famous of tango cellists; his expertise in idiom and instrument is evident in his ‘Milontán’, written in 1983, a piece which fuses the European classical tradition and the heritage of tango with wit, passion and intelligence. It gets a fine performance here from Devich and Havelaar, rich in the tension and relaxation which, alike, are at the heart of the tango, full of incisive rhythms and languorous cello lines. A delight.

For anyone who enjoys the nuevo tango, especially those with a leaning towards the classical end of the spectrum, this is a CD likely to give plenty of pleasure.

Glyn Pursglove



 


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