Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Tango Ballet; Concierto Del Angel; Tres Piezas Para Orquesta De Camara. Gidon Kremer (violin) with Per Arne Glorvigen (bandoneon); Alois Posch (double bass); Vadim Sakharov (piano); Marta Sudraba (cello) and Ula Zebriunaite (viola); and Kremer ATA Baltica  TELDEC 3984-22661-2 [53:52]


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 octet’s 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.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

Return to Index