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The Amelita Years

Donald Macleod charts the ups and downs of Astor Piazzolla’s years in Rome, where a fresh new start didn’t quite turn out as he had hoped.

Donald Macleod charts the ups and downs of Astor Piazzolla’s years in Rome, where a fresh new start didn’t quite turn out as he hoped.

All his life he fought against the tide, and in the end, he was the victor. Born in 1921, Astor Piazzolla was a rebel with a cause. A virtuoso bandoneon player and a composer, he set out to break tango free from its roots, and make it a music with a future far beyond the dance halls and cafes of 1950s Buenos Aires. Hits like “Libertango” and collaborations with jazz giants like Gary Burton and Gerry Mulligan made his name beyond the tango world, while his classical compositions brought his instrument, the bandoneon, and him critical acclaim in the concert hall. The secret of his musical technique came, he said, from his studies with French pedagogue, Nadia Boulanger and Argentinian composer, Alberto Ginastera but there was a third teacher: Buenos Aires, the city which taught him the secrets of tango.
Across the week Donald Macleod traces Astor Piazzolla’s life through five formative locations, New York, Buenos Aires, Paris, Rome and Punta del Este, the coastal resort where he would spend the summer, relaxing and composing.

A heart attack and the loss of funding for his band encouraged Piazzolla to seek new pastures. Together with his partner, the tango singer Amelita Baltar, he set up shop in the Eternal City. A new deal with an agent, and some interesting projects beckoned, yet Piazzolla would later describe these years as being full of bad memories.

Michelangelo 70
Astor Piazzolla, bandoneon
Jaime Gosis, piano
Antonio Agri, violin
Hugo Baralis, violin
Victor Pontino, cello
Nestor Panik, viola
Kicho Diaz, double bass
Cacho Tirao, guitar
Arturo Schneider, flute
Josè Correale, percussion
Tito Bisio, vibraharp, xylophone, carillon

Amelitango
Astor Piazzolla, bandoneon
Horacio Malvicino, electric guitar
Juan Carlos Cirigliano, piano
Alberto Cevasco, electric bass
Santiago Giacobbe, organ
Enrique Roizner, percussion
Daniel Piazzolla, synthesiser and percussion
Arturo Schneider, saxophone and flute

Maria de Buenos Aires (excerpt)
Scenes 4 to 6
Valentina Montoya Martínez, Maria
Juanjo Lopez Vidal, the Duende, narrator
Nicholas Mulroy, vocal, sleepy Buenos Aires sparrow
Mr. McFall’s Chamber
Victor Villena, musical director and bandoneón

Summit
Close your eyes and listen
Gerry Mulligan, baritone sax
Astor Piazzolla, bandoneon
Angel “Pocho” Gatti, piano, organ
Tullio de Piscopo, drums
Giuseppe Prestipino, electric bass
Alberto Baldani, Gianni Zilioli, marimba
Filippo Dacco, Bruno de Fillippi, electric guitar
Ennio Miori, first cello

3 Movimientos Tanguisticos Portenos (1963)
Tango No. 1. Allegretto - Meno mosso e pesante
Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen
Gabriel Castagna, conductor

Tristezas de un Doble A
Astor Piazzolla, bandoneon
Fernando Suárez Paz, violin
Pablo Ziegler, piano
Oscar López Ruiz, electric guitar
Héctor Console, bass

Producer: Johannah Smith, BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Astor Piazzolla

    Michelangelo 70

    Performer: Astor Piazzolla. Performer: Jaime Gosis. Performer: Antonio Agri. Performer: Hugo Baralis. Performer: Victor Pontino. Performer: Nestor Panik. Performer: Kicho Diaz. Performer: Cacho Tirao. Performer: Arturo Schneider. Performer: José Correale. Performer: Tito Bisio.
    • Bella Musica BM 317033.
    • Bella Musica.
    • 3.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Amelitango

    Performer: Astor Piazzolla. Performer: Horacio Malvicino. Performer: Juan Carlos Cirigliano. Performer: Santiago Giacobbe. Performer: Enrique Roizner. Performer: Daniel Piazzolla. Performer: Arturo Schneider. Singer: Alberto Cevasco.
    • Bella Musica BM 317035.
    • Bella Musica.
    • 2.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Maria de Buenos Aires: Scenes 4 - 6

    Performer: Victor Villena.
    • Delphian DCD 34186.
    • Delphian.
    • 4.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Summit

    Performer: Astor Piazzolla. Performer: Angel "Pocho" Gatti. Performer: Filippo Dacco. Performer: Gianni Zilioli. Performer: Alberto Baldani. Performer: Tullio de Piscopo. Performer: Ennio Miori. Singer: Giuseppe Prestipino.
    • ACCORD 556642.
    • ACCORD.
    • 5.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Close your eyes and listen

    Performer: Astor Piazzolla. Performer: Angel "Pocho" Gatti. Performer: Filippo Dacco. Performer: Gianni Zilioli. Performer: Alberto Baldani. Performer: Tullio de Piscopo. Performer: Ennio Miori. Singer: Giuseppe Prestipino.
    • ACCORD 556642.
    • ACCORD.
    • 3.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    3 Movimientos Tanguisticos Portenos

    Orchestra: Wurttemberg Philharmonic of Reutlingen. Conductor: Gabriel Castagna.
    • Chan 10049.
    • Chan.
    • 2.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Tristezas de un doble A

    Performer: Astor Piazzolla. Performer: Fernando Suárez Paz. Performer: Pablo Ziegler. Performer: Oscar López Ruiz. Performer: Héctor Console.
    • MILAN : 55902.
    • MILAN.
    • 1.

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