One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



AmazonUK AmazonUS

Ástor PIAZZOLLA (1921–1992)
The Piazzolla Project
Concierto para Quinteto [9:48]
Estaciones Porteñas [25:46]
Fuga y Misterio [4:25]
Suite del Angel [19:53]
Jacques Ammon (piano); Artemis Quartet
rec. Grosser Saal der Musikhochschule Lübeck 19-20 June 2008; 6, 21 June 2004; Angelika Kaufmann Saal Schwarzenberg 11 June 2004. DDD
VIRGIN CLASSICS 2672920 [59:52]
Experience Classicsonline

“Crossover” is a term that makes most serious musicians of any genre shudder with dread. With its implications of dumbed-down tunes packaged into easy-listening albums performed by air-brushed performers of modest ability it smacks of record companies massaging dwindling music sales figures with high volume sales. There is one composer/performer who totally transcends this limited remit – the extraordinary Ástor Piazzolla. A potted biography is quite remarkable and points to his unique talent from an early age. Born in Buenos Aires, a virtuoso on the bandoneon - a fiendishly hard-to-play kind of accordion - by thirteen, he later studied with Ginastera classical composition. Ginastera recommended he enter a composing competition; part of the prize was to go to Paris and study in turn with Nadia Boulanger. It was she who encouraged him to focus his compositional skills on tango and jazz – he wrote in a memoir; “…she asked me to play some bars of a tango of my own. She suddenly opened her eyes, took my hand and told me: "You idiot, that's Piazzolla!" And I took all the music I composed, ten years of my life, and sent it to hell in two seconds.” His compositional and performing life was then dedicated to the creation of Tango Nuevo. Much to the consternation of tango traditionalists in Argentina this represented a fusion between tango and jazz. Add to that the classical rigour of form, dissonant harmony, and passages of great fugal and contrapuntal complexity. It can be seen that his music really is a fusion of styles – genuinely crossing over the boundaries between genres. Many of his compositions were written for his preferred tango band line-up of bandoneon, violin, electric guitar, piano and bass. They follow a similar structure of fast-slow-fast-slow-coda. Over time, and as he became more famous, this seemingly limited form and instrumentation was developed by collaborations with other musicians as well as writing for the opera house and symphony orchestra.

If you have never heard any Piazzolla I really do recommend most strongly that you seek it out. His is a unique sound-world, vibrant, exultant and sensual, rhythmically exhilarating and moving. Is this the disc the place to start? Well, yes and no. Wearing my purist’s hat I have to sombrely point out that all of the music presented here are arrangements of Piazzolla, crucially missing the very instrument - the unique sound of the bandoneon - that is at the heart of his music. It could be argued this is a cross-over album of a cross-over composer. But the more you look at the Piazzolla discography the more you realise that much of his music is presented in arrangements to some degree or another and that this CD contains playing and arranging of the very highest order. Piazzolla himself was not averse to re-arranging a piece to accommodate circumstance. La Muerte del Angel I first heard on the album The New Tango – Astor Piazzolla & Gary Burton where it is arranged to include Burton’s remarkable jazz vibraphone playing. Likewise there is a Chandos disc where the bandoneon part of the concerto he wrote for the instrument is transcribed for accordion. So perhaps the charge of “its an arrangement” is irrelevant – the more I listened here the more I thought that. But, and it is a big but, a piano quintet is NOT a tango band and no matter how intimately they have researched the idiom and how brilliantly they play - which they do - I miss the earthy wildness that to my ear embodies those authentic performances. Piazzolla uses muscular striding bass lines doubled in the piano and double-bass, with percussive interjections from the bandoneon combined with riotously virtuosic violin lines full of whipping glissandi and cricket-like scrapings. As much of this original colour is transferred as possible but the overall effect is tempered and I would have to say lessened. This is not music viewed through a distorting lens, rather a softening one.

I am being rather churlish here too. The quality of the playing on this disc is absolutely superb and it is helped by an excellent recording. It is quite close and analytical in an almost jazz-studio style. It is only when you turn back to the original recordings that you become aware of that last ounce of authenticity that’s missing. Which is why I am in two minds about this being a good starting point to enter Piazzolla’s musical world. If the idea of jazz/tango fusion appeals go straight to either the album I’ve mentioned above or his seminal Tango: Zero Hour which Piazzolla himself considered his career high. That album features the tracks Milonga del Angel and Concierto para Quinteto recorded here. However, this disc provides an excellent overview of music written in various periods of Piazzolla’s life. One absolutely head-scratching question though: since Piazzolla did write at least one piece Tango for Four specifically for string quartet why on earth was it not included here? The disc is only modestly filled. If his more extended orchestral work is of interest try Tangazo on Decca (468 568-2) recorded by Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. A third version of the ubiquitous Milonga del Angel appears here too. Beautifully recorded but also drifting away from the compellingly idiomatic.

To sum up the current CD; not really a first stop for the Piazzolla newbie. Too much of the original texture is changed, and not really for the dedicated follower either. Excellent though the disc is in every department I did not feel it revealed to me elements of this music missing elsewhere. That being said, it is a disc I will happily to return to for pure pleasure.

A great album prepared and played with insight and care if lacking the last drop of deliriously authentic passion.

Nick Barnard

see also Review by Jens Laursen




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.