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

Highly recommended Piazzolla

From February 14, 2012:


Piazzolla's music thrives in many different environments, from the standard concert stage to the jazz club, and in many instrumental & orchestral forms. In this new disc from Azica we have an intimate chamber work (Histoire du Tango, written for flute & guitar, but presented here in Julian Labro's version for bandoneon & guitar), along with two works written for or arranged (again by Labro) for guitar, bandoneon, and string orchestra.

Histoire du Tango works especially well, I think, in its new arrangement. It's a trip from Tango's traditional home, at the turn of the 20th century in the bordellos of Buenos Aires, through newer versions of the dance which Piazzolla himself contributed to or invented. The long, slow second movement (Cafe 1930) is a real highlight for me, my favourite amongst all of Piazzolla's works. Music is one of the best ways to communicate the full range of emotions that we call nostalgia, and this is a great re-creation of what would likely have been among Piazzolla's earliest musical memories. Of course, the sound of the bandoneon certainly belongs here.

Piazzolla can take pride in his own contribution to the jazzy Nightclub 1960 version of the tango; he brings 'cool' to the new form of tango (nuevo tango) he developed. The angular, avant-garde sound he brings to the final Concert d'Aujourd'hui introduces his other contribution to the form, musical ideas borrowed from classical composers from Bach to Stravinsky. This movement points to the more adventurous 'alt-classical' scene of today. The recording, made at the Cleveland Museum of Art, is warm and intimate.

Vieaux and Labro play along with A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra in Piazzolla's concerto Hommage a Liege, and in Labro's version of Las Cuatro Estaciones Porenas for the same forces. The performances are polished and alive. The recording is bright, though balancing these solo instruments with the orchestral forces is problematic. Still, this disc is very highly recommended!

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