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Len Mullenger:

Lalo SCHIFRIN(composer and Musical Director) Tango    OST DG 459 145-2 [63:04]
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When classical music Deutsche Grammophon allow their label on the front of an album of film music it has to be something! It is!

Carlos Savra's film is currently enjoying great success around the art houses in the UK (the main distributors do not know what they have passed up!) It is about a gifted film director abandoned by his wife. To forget her, he throws himself into work on a film about tango and in doing so falls in love and has a torrid affair with a beautiful dancer who is the mistress of the film's main financial backer. He is not oblivious to what is going on and takes a contact out on the hapless film director. Images of the director's life and memories shown against an oppressive military repression and the great wave of European immigrants at the turn of the century all converge in the screenplay.

Argentinian composer, Lalo Schifrin, composer of such major scores as Bullitt, Mission Impossible and Dirty Harry, was the natural choice to score the film for he had been Astor Piazzolla's pianist in the world famous tango composer's early years. Schifrin is remarkably versatile, equally at home in jazz and classical music - and tango is close to his heart. The tango has of course featured in many movies. It's appeal has remained undiminished since the beginning of the century from brothels to sophisticated parties and ballrooms, and from Buenos Aires to Hollywood via Paris (some of the numbers have that unmistakable Paris left-bank jazz style).

A group of exceptional performers gathered for the recording session. One of them was over 80 years old, and all were associated with the epoch of the film. Some of the tangos are classics such as 'La cumparsita'; 'El choclo' and 'Caminito' and there is Astor Piazzolla's 'Calambre.'

The producers considered tangos, milongas and creole waltzes and chose what they considered indispensable for the film. The score comprises tangos in many moods: proud and haughty, sensual and voluptuous, strongly rhythmical and energetic; jazz-inflected; quiet and sentimental, romantic, nostalgic, and cheeky and humorous. In one memorable number 'Corazón', that has some engagingly shifting rhythms, the tango invades the waltz. Schifrin himself composed seven numbers to heighten the atmosphere and story line of the film. His 'Tango bárbaro' is edgy, nervous and dangerous; the shadows also trail his melodic and romantic 'Tango del atardecer' while 'Tango lunaire' recalls the 1920s in the manner of Kurt Weill.

One of the most impressive tracks is in marked contrast to all the rest. 'La represión' is a powerful orchestral composition played here by the Buenos Aires Symphony. It speaks of merciless military might with bass and snare drums crushing resistance. Women's voices, in Greek tragedy mode, bewail the chaos and brutality. A final solitary bell tolls over the devastation.

If you have to choose between the plethora of tango releases pouring onto the market at present, make it this one.


Ian Lace


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