Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Deluxe Piazzolla and a Pujol World Premiere

From March 2, 2010:


The new Concerto disc "Luminosa Buenos Aires" gives the deluxe treatment to familiar music by Astor Piazzolla, and offers as well the world premiere recording of Maximo Diego Pujol's Double Concerto for Guitar, Bandoneon and Strings. Piazzolla's music has become so popular around the world partly because of the many European and African dance sources that went into the creation of the tango in the immigrant communities of Buenos Aires in the late 19th Century. But it's also because Piazzolla repackaged the original dance forms with jazz and classical strains to create "nuevo tango", a kind of International Style of music that resonates in Paris, Helsinki, and New York as much as it does in its home city. It obviously found a home as well in Parma, where the fine string players of I Musici di Parma provide a luscious mix of appealing music that seems to be over well before the hour-and-a-minute listed on the CD cover. Unlike some Latin-themed discs, there's enough rhythmic and melodic variety to keep one's ears interested.

This isn't the gritty music of knife-wielding thugs dancing with each other from Borges' "History of Tango". That mythic period of Sex & Violence & Tangos is a distant memory by Piazzolla's time. But music like this traffics in distant memories, nostalgia, the dream-world of the past. This world which Piazzolla helped to create is brilliantly continued by Pujol is his new concerto. The whole program is brought to life by the orchestral musicians and by the two soloists: guitarist Giampaolo Bandini and banoneonist Cesare Chiacchiaretta. Balancing two such different solo instruments and a string orchestra doesn't seem an easy task, but these live recordings present a very life-like sound picture, albeit one that stresses the outward sheen of beautiful sounds. This music isn't born from, nor does it induce, deep thinking.

The CD is recommended as much for the general music lover as for the tango aficionado; if you don't know this style of music, it's a great place to start.

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