Astor Piazzolla studied with Alberto Ginastera and, in Paris, with Nadia
Boulanger. It was she who persuaded him to devote himself to the tango rather
than to classical music. Piazzolla interpreted the popular music of Argentina
as Bartók, Stravinsky and Gershwin did the music of their countries.
And the tango is Argentina! Piazzolla took the tango and produced classical
music. Hearing the jazz musicians in Paris and being impressed with their
swing and wealth of ideas, he decided to free the tango from its traditional
patterns to give it more nuances and make it more complex.
In 1956 Piazzolla wrote Tango Ballet for a short film. His music was
welcomed but not the film. It is a difficult work. It made big demands on
the octets musicians at the time, so much so that it was not performed
again until 1989. In Tango Ballet classical music, tango and ballet
all merge into a composition of unique originality. In this transcription,
Gidon Kremer is featured together with his chamber ensemble Kremer
ATA Baltica which consists of young musicians from Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania. Kremer grasps the opportunity to show off his impressive
virtuosity without compromising the essential spirit of the composition.
There are six movements: Introduction La Calle (The Street); Encuentro
(Meeting); Cabaret; Soledad (Solitude) and Calle final. Cabaret pure
tango, has a particularly catchy tune; the mood of Soledad is, in contrast,
darker and tinged with melancholy. Encuentro Olvido has an engaging
sexy sultriness, with a sense of mystery and danger.
In 1958, Piazzolla was inspired by the cool jazz of New York and he assembled
his first quintet with an instrumentation of bandoneon, piano, double bass,
electric guitar and vibraphone. Later, the vibraphone was replaced by a violin.
Piazzolla was concerned to create tango music that would give voice to the
concerns of the modern city of Buenos Aires since the city had a new rhythm
and had become cosmopolitan. He brought the tango to a new audience: students,
young workers, avant-garde artists, jazz and Bossa Nova fans. Among the numerous
works of his fruitful 1960s was the Angel series that revolved
around the subject of an angel. Four of these are included in Concierto Del
Angel for violin, bandoneon, double bass, piano and string orchestra. They
are: Introducción al Angel; Milonga del Angel; La muerte del Angel
and Resurrección del Angel. The music attracted great attention for
it sounded new, unusual, evocative and sensitive. Introducción al
Angel describes the mysterious path of the angel who appears in a block of
flats in Buenos Aires in order to cleanse the souls of the inhabitants in
music that is quietly mystical but also intensely passionate. La muerte del
Angel begins with a three-part tango-fugue followed by a passage which depicts
the desperate struggle between the villain and the angel whom he kills
the music here is again passionate with a strong melodic line. Milonga del
Angel is more slow and sentimental while Resurrección is proud and
haughty and rather Ravelian in character. Kremer and his players play with
real power and conviction.
Finally, for piano and string orchestra, there is the three-movement Tres
Piezas Para Orquesta De Camara. Preludio: Lento is an atmospheric piece that
opens dramatically and menacingly before its brooding melts into a lovely
romantic melody. Fuga:Allegro, one of the most captivating numbers on the
album is a bouncy, vibrant fugue with a catchy melody. Finally the Divertimento:
Allegro molto is a sunny jazz-inspired confection.
An inspiring tour of the tango in thrilling performances.