The Free-Reed Review
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CD Review:

Astor Piazzolla Tango

Pablo Mainetti, Bandoneon
Orquestra de Cambra Teatre Lliure (Barcelona)
Josep Pons, Conductor


Concierto para bandoneon, orquestra de cuerdas y percusion (1979)

Tres movimientos tanguisticos portenos (1968)

Tangos (arr. Lluis Vidal)

Total Time: 67:26
Released in 1996

label: harmonia mundi(HMC 901595)
Mas de Vert
13200 Arles

in USA:
2037 Granville Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025-6103

Tel. 310-478-1311
Fax. 310-996-1389

Review by Henry Doktorski:

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) is, in my opinion, probably the most influential composer of the twentieth century who wrote a large body of works for the bandoneon (or any other free-reed instrument, for that matter). He was born in Argentina, learned the bandoneon at an early age and performed in several tango orchestras. As a young man he played in the films of Carlos Gardel and served as music director and arranger for Anibal Triolo's Orquestra Tipica. Some years later, he focused his attention on classical music and studied composition with Alberto Ginastera and Nadia Boulanger.

Then in Buenos Aires around 1955, Piazzolla discovered his unique voice and coined the term Nuevo Tango -- a synthesis of classical music, jazz and the tango -- which, at first, earned him the bewilderment and the visceral rejection of the intelligentsia tanguistica. After years of struggle, the world finally began to recognize his genius and he was rewarded with many joyful encounters with great performers such as Gerry Mulligan and Gary Burton in jazz, Lalo Shiffrin and the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse in classical music, the Kronos Quartet in the avant garde, and the film director Fernando Solanas and the composer Horacio Ferrer. Piazzolla wrote over 750 compositions, including concerti, operas, film and theater scores, and recorded over 70 records.

Piazzolla's Concerto for Bandoneon and String Orchestra and Percussion is considered one of his greatest works. It was commissioned by the Banco de la Provinicia of Buenos Aires for a radio broadcasting event in 1979. The concerto has a strong external resemblance to the Baroque concerto grosso and thus has a classical form. The bandoneon -- certainly an emotional instrument -- sings, laments and at times cries out in a torment of alienation.

In Tres movimientos tanguisticos portenos -- another major work by Piazzolla -- the bandoneon -- Piazzolla's instrument of choice -- is conspicuously absent, but this is balanced by the remarkable orchestration which is extremely rich and colorful. The haunting clarinet melody accompanied by pizzicato strings and high percussion at the end of the first movement is striking. The second movement features a delightful cadenza consisting of a duet between the bassoon and bass clarinet. Of special interest to classical music lovers is the fugue at the beginning of the third movement.

The five tangos which complete the album (arranged by pianist Lluis Vidal) are a welcome contrast to the first two lengthly and serious works. The Orquestra de Cambra Teatre Lliure under Josep Pons' direction is driving at times, melancholy at other times, but always clear and well-defined. Mainetti's bandoneon playing is convincing and I dare say that I believe that the late Astor Piazzolla would be pleased with this recording.

Bandoneonist Pablo Mainetti was born in Buenos Aires and completed his studies in bandoneon, harmony and composition before specializing in chamber and contemporary music. He has worked under the direction of Beba Pugliese, Nestor Marconi, Daniel Binelli, Mederos and Rodolfo Alchurron. He has performed in festivals such as the Tangos por dos of Juan Carlos Copas, the Spanish-American Encounters of Bogota, the Cervantino and Tango festivals of Granad, The Barcelona Tango Festival, the Argentia Week and the Universal Exhibition in Lisbon.

The CD booklet notes by Francisco Cruz are written in French, English, German and Spanish. I recommend this album for lovers of Piazzolla, nuevo tango and the bandoneon.

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