April 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Founder Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /April01/

Misa Tango
for mezzo-soprano and tenor, bandoneón solo, mixed chorus and orchestra. Ana Maria Martinez (mezzo); Plácido Domingo (tenor) Héctor Ulises Passarella (bandonéon)*.
Luis Bacalov (piano)
Astor PIAZZOLA Adiós Nonino; Libertango
Luis Bacalov (piano) * heard on all tracks
DG 463 471-2 [53:48]
£10.99  AmazonUK  £12.99 AmazonUS

Luis Bacalov, the prolific Spanish-born composer and pianist working in Italy, has composed scores for many films since 1960 including The Gospel According to St Matthew (that won him an Academy Award nomination), City of Women, and Il Postino (The Postman) which won him an Academy Award in 1994.

His Misa Tango - an ambitious idea? What an understatement! Bacalov states that his idea of composing a Tango Mass scared him. This is understandable but thank God he didn't abandon it. Why shouldn't the tango rhythm be celebrated in this way? After all, dance is referred to over and over again in the Bible.

Bacalov composed his Misa Tango in 1997. He breaks away from tradition in that he uses his native Spanish language (he, himself is Argentinian) instead of the traditional Latin text, thus respecting his roots.

A distinguishing feature of this music is the use of the banndoneón, a type of Argentinean accordion that has no keyboard, only buttons but is most appropriate for this rhythm.

Following the opening B flat minor chord on the strings, the bandoneón takes up the lament in the Kyrie and the voices Domingo and Martinez blend splendidly with the lush, exotic music. The Gloria is just that; a celebration in music. Cello and piano feature prominently, as does the chorus; the sacred and the profane intermingling to dramatic and moving effect. In the Credo, piano and bandoneón strike up a dialogue, the music surging in exciting crescendo. During the Sanctus, the bandoneón plays a kind of descant to the solo cello; finally in the Agnus Dei, it is the dominant instrument. The last word to be sung is 'paz' - peace - on an A major chord which brings the Mass to a conclusion, in line with the principle that a piece of sacred music should always end in the major.

The collection concludes with three more tangos: Tangosain by Bacalov, and Adiós Nonino and Libertango by Astor Piazzolla orchestrated, with vivacity and colour, by Bacalov. In all three the piano features most strongly but this is nothing new in the history of the tango. Three delightful tracks.

Altogether a splendid collection, full of rich, exciting and inspiring music. I fail to see how this album could not be enjoyed - so, enjoy!

Grace Barber

See also revew by John Phillips

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