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Guitarra Mía
Astor PIAZZOLA (1921-1992)
La muerte del ángel (arr. Balthazar Benítez) [3:13]
Primavera porteña (arr. Balthazar Benítez) [5:23]  
Vuelvo al sur (arr. Anders Miolin) [3:53]
La última grela (arr. Jörg Falk) [4:13]
Triunfal (arr. Victor Villadangos) [3:00]
Cinco Piezas para guitarra [17:18]
Carlos GARDEL (1890-1935)
Mi Buenos Aires querido (arr. Débora Halász) [3:35]
Guitarra, guitarra mía (arr. Franz Halász) [2:20]
Criollita de mis amores (arr. Dietmar Kres) [2:34]
Sus ojos se cerraron (arr. Jörg Falk) [3:21]
El día que me quieras (arr. Victor Villadangos) [3:54]
Por una cabeza (arr. Franz Halász) [2:40]
Cuando tú no estás (arr. Dietmar Kres) [3:59]
Volver (arr. Dietmar Kres) [3:07]
Franz Halász (guitar)
rec. February 2016, Great Hall, Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Munich
BIS BIS-2165 SACD [63:43]

The great singer Carlos Gardel gave thirteen-year-old Astor Piazzolla a cameo role in the 1935 film El día que me quieras. Both in their different ways, and times, masters of the Tango, they make superficially somewhat odd disc-mates nevertheless, in a disc that intersperses arrangements for guitar of Gardel’s songs with various Piazzolla pieces, themselves heard in arrangements, with the exception of the Cinco Piezas, the only guitar original in the album. Gardel’s death in a plane crash later that same year—on which tour he had invited Piazzolla, who was unable to join him—brought his magnetic career of performances and films to a brutal end. Piazzolla, who had briefly played tangos with the older man was soon to forge his own career toward the end of the thirties, a career that was to take in studies with Ginastera, Hermann Scherchen and Nadia Boulanger, and future fame with nuevo tango.

Franz Halász has taken a number of arrangements, two of his own, one by Débora Halász and some by a variety of others, to form this dual tribute. This recording, in a rich, resonant but still clarity-conscious acoustic allows appreciation of the full range of his tone, from the deepest bass to the most refined treble. His sense of the music’s theatricality as much as its melancholy is sophisticated, and he brings considerable virtuosity, but never showiness, to these pieces. It is hard not to respond to the aching nostalgia at the heart of Piazzolla’s Primavera porteña or to be unaware of the skill with which Halász delineates the richly phrased Vuelvo al sur.

When it comes to Gardel’s songs, these need to survive the arrangement with their essential expressive topography intact, their songful bases audible. That is certainly the case with the guitarist’s own arrangement of the disc’s title track, and with the hopeful lyricism of Victor Villadangos’s arrangement of El día que me quieras. A YouTube click will reveal a number of clips from the films evoked in this disc, and will also show how well the essential Gardel spirit has been preserved in these transformations to solo guitar. These include the witty thrush calls in Cuando tú no estás as well as the limpid and reflective chanson element too. Volver is a famous case in point, in which optimism and despair are alike inhabitants of the singer’s art.

Cinco Piezas para guitarra evokes the milonga campera in its opening, a slow habanera-like genre. Throughout, Halász pays due care to the balladic and to the romance of the slow tango, and to the insistence of its percussive element. It adds a welcome ballast to the programme.

The fine notes by Eric Johns set the seal on this altogether elegant and nostalgic recording, one that transforms but never betrays the roots of the tango.

Jonathan Woolf



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