Argentinean Astor Piazzolla (March 11, 1921 - July 4, 1992) is widely considered the most important tango composer of the latter half of the twentieth century. His oeuvre revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. This 10CD set combines some of his greatest recordings.
The listener wishing to get acquainted with Astor Piazzolla's tangos has many options to choose from: the composer's own recordings, adaptations for classical ensembles, and various more arcane versions. This release features a young Armenian group of classically trained musicians, but the performances don't quite fit under the classical umbrella. Instead they offer a way of playing tango music that would have been familiar three-quarters of a century ago, but isn't heard much these days: you might call it sentimental salon tango…
This Naxos disc by the five-member Versus Ensemble contains a potpourri of seven different works by Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla. It includes many of his best known major works – the Milonga del ángel, Verano Porteño, Libertango, and Oblivion – plus five excerpts from his least known major work: his operetta Maria de Buenos Aires. Of the 11 tracks here, four feature either vocalist Enrique Moratalla or soprano María Rey-Joly, one features reciter Horacio Ferrer, and six are instrumentals.
Inspired by a general love of the tango, and more specifically the tango of Astor Piazzolla, on the part of Yo-Yo Ma, the Soul of the Tango album is a masterful work of the nuevo tango, played by Ma's cello and many of Piazzolla's former associates. Piazzolla's old guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad even showed up to work on a pair of tracks arranged by Sergio: the Tango Suite (consisting of Andante and Allegro). The sheer beauty of one of Piazzolla's tangos is generally enough to warrant the purchase of an album involving them. An album such as this one, where all of the songs (save one: Tango Remembrances, where Ma plays along with outtakes from Piazzolla's recording of The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night album) are compositions by Piazzolla is even better. Add to this the masterful playing of Ma, and the surprising facility in which the cello fits into the tango, and you've got what could become a classic album, if only it weren't on the classical label from Sony.
This latest album from the Katona Twins fully sustains the standards set by their previous three releases for Channel Classic. … Highly recommended.