Google Astor Piazzolla and you’ll find many diverting YouTube
clips, including one of the composer as soloist in his own Bandoneón
Concerto. Picking items at random one is soon reminded of
the vigour and variety of Piazzolla’s tango-inspired output;
that’s encapsulated in Daniel Rivera’s coruscating account of
Adiós Nonino, which has all the brio I hoped to
hear in these arrangements by Argentine pianist Aquiles Delle-Vigne.
Potential buyers need to be aware this is not a Naxos original,
and was first released on an little-known label some twenty
The recording’s provenance shouldn’t be an issue, and it would
matter even less if the performances were anything special;
but the first of the Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (Four
Seasons in Buenos Aires) does not bode well. Rhythms are passable,
but the piano sounds most peculiar; this is especially noticeable
in louder passages, where the music is over-damped and diffuse.
Even more distracting is the tendency for notes to crumble at
the edges, not unlike the saturation one associates with cooking-grade
tapes. Moreover, there’s a definite quaver to the piano tone
at times, which is just bizarre. Sadly, the playing itself isn’t
very distinguished either. Indeed, Delle-Vigne is so remote
and his expressive range is so narrow that these individual
seasons simply merge into one.
After such an uncomfortable start I did wonder if the pianist’s
own arrangements would be any better. Perhaps the Balada
para un loco (Ballad of a Madman) would give this recital
a much-needed boost. To some extent it does; Delle-Vigne brings
a degree of wistfulness to the opening bars but thereafter the
music seems to collapse under the weight of its own introspection.
As for that strange piano sound, it’s as annoying as ever. Not
so much piantao, piantao, piantao (mad. mad, mad) as
dull, dull, dull. And that’s true of the so-called ‘Angel suite’,
where inwardness is replaced by diffidence. That said, there
is more passion and fire in La muerte del ángel (The
Death of the Angel), although it’s short-lived. Fine
if you want to listen with the lights and volume turned low,
but otherwise uninvolving.
The rhythms of Chau Paris (Bye-bye Paris) are
nicely inflected; in fact, it’s one of the more successful and
engaging arrangements thus far, despite Delle-Vigne’s frustrating
aloofness. Oh, if only the playing weren’t so po-faced, and
the portrait of band leader and tanguero Alfredo Gobbi
so drably drawn. As for Piazzolla’s tribute to his late father,
Adiós Nonino (Farewell Nonino), Rivera finds a vein of
pathos here that simply eludes Delle-Vigne. That quality is
also missing from La misma pena (The Same Sadness), although
the perk of Picasso suggests wit and spontaneity are
quite possible. But where are these qualities in the Parisian
cheek of Sentido único (One-way Street)?
Major disappointments are rare, but this is one of them. Hand
on heart, if this were a once-in-a-lifetime recital or an indispensable
archive performance I’d happily ignore the poor sonics; but
it’s neither of those things. Which begs the question: why did
Naxos resurrect it in the first place? Frankly, I’m baffled.
see also reviews by Brian
Reinhart and Bob