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ClassicsOnline Home » Tango Argentino
The tango has always retained its image of a dance unashamedly sensual in character. Developed in the poorer districts of Buenos Aires during the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, it combined new music and dance styles from different countries with those of the native population to form a dance now popular all over the world. This recording presents a fascinating cross section of Argentinian composers from the three most successful periods in the history of tango, before and after the First World War, the golden age from the 1930s until the military coup in 1955 and the current worldwide renaissance. If pride of place goes to the master himself, Astor Piazzola, it was Carlos Gardel who made the tango fashionable abroad during the 1920s, while Lito Vitale belongs to a new generation of Argentinian composers who have combined the form with jazz and folk-music.
The tango is essentially associated with Buenos Aires and its racial and cultural amalgam. It is derived from the cross-cultural influences of the Spanish, native Indians and Negroes, colonists, indigenous inhabitants and slaves. The first of these influences was the candombe heard in the first quarter of the nineteenth century among the porteños of Concepción, San Telmo and Monserrat, the so-called ‘districts of the drum’. Then, in the second half of the nineteenth century, the habanera, of Spanish origin, came to the Argentines from Cuba with the boats that sailed to Buenos Aires for cargos of salted beef. This and the Andalusian fandango were taken up by the criollos, who made various various rhythmic modifications which in turn led to the milonga, inspired by the candombe, adapted by the criollos, bringing together African feeling and the spirit of the people of the River Plate districts.
While in the ball-rooms of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, people danced European polkas and mazurkas, in the slums there was a native sensuality in the milonga. From the ranches came payadores, gaucho singers, with their melodies, and the tango would first have been seen on the dirt patios of the pulpería (saloons). The sung verses began to have their own style and themes and from these and the milongas came the new music that would be called the tango, bringing together the gaucho and the candombe of the blacks. A futher influence was that of the Italian immigrants, with their own feeings of nostalgia.
Eladia Blazquez, poet and singer, and a leading authority on the modern tango, was born in 1927. Her Sueño de barrilete (Kite-flying dream) was written in 1957. During the long spring evenings in Buenos Aires, walking through her neighbourhood, she came across some children absorbed in flying a kite, with its trail of coloured strips of cloth, watching it with hope. To her the kite seemed to symbolize the daily life and dreams of the city.
The composer and guitarist Carlos Moscardini was born in Buenos Aires in 1959, and for many years has collaborated with important artists in Argentinean folk-music. He won the Primer Certamen Libre de la Nueva Música Popular de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, has made recordings for solo guitar and has played in the most important cities of Argentina, and also in Chile, Canada, Spain, Scandinavia and Germany, collaborating in some fifty concerts in Japan. Milonga de un entrevero (Milonga of confusion) refers in its title to the typical milonga and to the early twentieth-century entreveros, knife-fights between men settling some affair of honour. In A los tilingos he alludes ironically to the tilingos of Buenos Aires in a candombe-milonga, typical in rhythm of the folk-music of the River Plate region.
Astor Piazzolla was born in 1921 and as a child moved with his family to the United States, settling in Greenwich Village. His father gave him a bandoneón and he studied the piano and classical music in Manhattan, developing an interest in both classical music and in the tango, with which he incorporated unusual elements of harmony, fugue and counterpoint. He holds a unique position in the history of the tango. Astor Piazolla died in 1992.
Carlos Gardel was born in 1887 and became internationally identified with the tango, which he made fashionable abroad in the 1920s. He created in it more than a dance but a synthesis of cultural significance, while himself providing an example of success that suggested similar ambitions to many others from a similarly impoverished background. He was equally famous for his appearances in films. The present recording includes two of his best known compositions, El día que me quieras (The day you love me) and Volver (Coming back). Gardel died in 1935.
Mariano Mores was born in Buenos Aires in 1922 and began his career as a pianist with Francisco Canara, one of the fathers of the tango orchestra. At the end of the 1940s he formed his own tango orchestra, introducing new instruments, including the organ and the electric guitar. He has written many film scores and is among the most successful composers in Argentinian popular music.
Born in 1928, Julian Plaza is well-known as a player of the bandoneón and as a pianist. He spent nine years, from 1959, in Osvaldo Pugliese’s orchestra, one of the best known in Argentina, travelling on concert tours to the former Soviet Union, China and Japan. In 1968 he founded the Sexteto Tango.
Aníbal Carmelo Troilo, known as ‘Pichuco’, the Bandoneón Mayor de Buenos Aires, was born in 1914 in the traditional quarter of El Abasto and was recruited as a boy by Juan Maglio ‘Pacho’, conductor of one of the first tango orchestras in Buenos Aires, to play the bandoneón. Thereafter he played in various orchestras until 1937, when he established his own ensemble. He exercised a strong influence on the development of the tango. Sur (South), one of some sixty compositions and written in 1948, presents a picture of a traditional corner of one of the quarters of the city. Troilo died in 1975.
Saúl Cosentino made his first recording of avant-garde tangos composed and arranged by him in 1983. Other recordings followed, and in 1990 he won first prize in the Carlos Gardel Competition. Other recordings, publications and awards have followed, and a series of compositions that has included a guitar concerto and a prize-winning suite for harp and strings. In 1995 he wrote his slow milonga La Recoleta, for which Horacio Ferrer later provided words. It depicts the neighbourhood of the title, where Ferrer has lived for many years.
Pedro Laurenz (his true name was Pedro Blanco) was born into a musical family in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires in 1902, later moving to Uruguay, where he was attracted to the bandoneón. He made his début in Buenos Aires at the age of twenty, playing with Julio De Caro’s orchestra, in duet with Pedro Mafia known as Los dos Pedritos. He formed his own orchestra in 1934 at the bar Los treinta y seis billares, the start of 25 years of performance and a series of compositions of deep melancholy.
Born in 1960, the composer and pianist Lito Vitale belongs to a new generation of Argentinian composers who have been able to combine jazz, folk-music and the tango. He is well-known for his daily television programme Ese amigo del alma. His Milonga del 71, included here, is arranged for guitar by Victor Villadangos from the original version for piano, flute and guitar. The title refers not to any year but to the bus route No.71. The milonga was written during the course of a journey through the suburbs of Buenos Aires.
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