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Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Escualo [3:02]
Vardarito [6:48]
Milonga del angel [6:00]
Las cuatro estaciones portenas [21:35]
Adios Nonino [5:46]
Introduccion al angel [5:00]
Jeanne y Paul [4:36]
Balada para un loco [5:03]
Revirado [3:23]
Fracanapa [2:36]
Tomás Cotik (violin)
Tao Lin (piano)
Jeffrey Kipperman (double bass)
Alex Wadner, Bradley Loudis (percussion)
Alfredo Lerida (voice)
rec. 2014, Gusman Concert Hall, Coral Gables, Florida
NAXOS 8.573789 [64:01]

Astor Piazzolla was one of the leading tango composers and performers of the last century. He revolutionized the tango by fusing it with elements of classical and jazz, creating a new style aptly described as “Nuevo Tango”. Over his lifetime he wrote more than 3000 pieces, many of which are still being discovered. He was also a virtuoso bandoneonist, and performed with many stylistically different bands and musicians.

This album is a commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Pizzalloa’s death. It contains a mix of his works, selected and performed by violinist Tomas Cotik and pianist Tao Lin. Tomas was born in Buenos Aires and is a well-known recording artist. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Violin at Portland State University. Tao was born in Shanghai and performs regularly throughout Europe, Asia and North America. The two musicians have been recording together since 2010, and have previously recorded another Piazzolla album, Tango Nuevo, released by Naxos in 2013.

Escualo, or “shark”, composed in 1979, is a driving piece marked by suspense, dynamic rhythms and jagged syncopation. Piazzolla was inspired to write it after being jolted awake from a sleepy morning fishing trip by an enormous shark on his line. The slashing violin melody is matched and complemented by a quick and steady series of piano bass chords and runs, musically reflecting the drama on the sea. Vardarito is an interesting tribute to bandleader and violinist Elvino Vardaro, a long-time musical associate who performed in Piazzolla’s first Quintet and later in his Octet. Tomas and Tao are joined by double bassist Jeffrey Kipperman and percussionists Alex Wadner and Bradley Loudis, the group alternating slow and dreamy duets with rattling up-tempo ensemble verses. Milonga del angel, or “Angel’s Milonga “ was composed in 1965. It is a slow, delicate ballad with a fine tango milonga arrangement having the melody alternately shared between piano and violin, with sensitive dynamics and key changes.
Las cuatro estaciones portenas (The Four Season of Buenos Aires) was written between 1960 and 1970. The collection was inspired by Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”, and the four movements can be performed separately or as a set, in any order, as by each contrasting they complement the whole. Revirado, composed in 1963, alternates a light-hearted piano dance accompanied by raspy percussion, with a slower, elegant violin segment for a fine overall effect.

Piazzolla’s most famous tango, Adios Nonino, was written in 1959 after his father died. It is a dynamic, melancholy classic that alternates tense, anxious passages with slower, grieving segments that, together, mirror the phases of saying a final good-by. Tomas and Tao capture the essence of the piece with beautiful phasing and sensitivity.

A four page flyer is included, with notes and comment by music journalist Fernando Gonzalez. The sound quality is excellent.

Bruce McCollum


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