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The secrets of tango

Donald Macleod explores tango legend Astor Piazzolla’s colourful early years playing bandoneon in the tango bands of Buenos Aires.

Donald Macleod explores tango legend Astor Piazzolla’s colourful early years playing bandoneon in the tango bands of Buenos Aires

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.

Piazzolla came to Buenos Aires as a teenager to join one the many tango orchestras, popular in the city during the 1950s. It wasn’t long before he was snapped up by one of the most famous outfits lead by Anibal Troilo and began to see the seamier side of café society.

Buenos Aires hora cera (Buenos Aires zero hour)
Astor Piazzolla and the new Tango Sextet
Astor Piazzolla, bandoneon
Gerardo Gandini, piano
Horacio Malvicino, guitar
Daniel Binelli, bandoneon
Carlos Nozzi, cello
Angel Ridolfi, bass

El desbande
arr. Piazzolla: A Bardi-M. Battistella: Tiernamente
arr. Piazzolla: A. Junnissi: El recodo
Aldo Campoamor, vocals
Astor Piazzolla and his Orchestra

Histoire du Tango for flute and guitar
Concert d’aujourd’hui.
Cécile Daroux, flute
Pablo Márquez, guitar

Balada para mi muerte
Amelita Baltar, vocal
Astor Piazzolla

Troileana Suite
Astor Piazzolla and his Orchestra

Sinfonía Buenos Aires, Op.15
Moderato – Allegretto
Daniel Binelli, bandoneon
Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Producer: Johannah Smith, BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Astor Piazzolla

    Buenos Aires hora cera

    Performer: Astor Piazzolla. Performer: Gerardo Gandini. Performer: Horacio Malvicino. Performer: Daniel Binelli. Performer: Carlos Nozzi. Performer: Angel Ridolfi. Ensemble: Astor Piazzolla And His New Tango Sextet.
    • INTUITION INT 30792.
    • INTUITION INT 30792.
    • 3.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    El desbande

    Performer: Piazzolla And His Orchestra.
    • El bandoneon EBCD02.
    • El bandoneon.
    • 1.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Tiernamente

    Performer: Piazzolla And His Orchestra.
    • El bandoneon EBCD02.
    • El bandoneon.
    • 4.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    El recodo

    Performer: Piazzolla And His Orchestra.
    • El bandoneon EBCD02.
    • El bandoneon.
    • 5.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Histoire du Tango (Concert d'aujourd'hui)

    Performer: Cécile Daroux. Performer: Pablo Márquez.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : HMN-911674.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 2.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Balada para mi muerte

    Singer: Amelita Baltar.
    • CAMEO CD 3508.
    • CAMEO.
    • 2.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Troileana Suite

    Performer: Astor Piazzolla And His Orchestra.
    • JAMS : JAM-9103-2.
    • JAMS.
    • 13.
  • Astor Piazzolla

    Sinfonía Buenos Aires, Op 15

    Performer: Daniel Binelli. Orchestra: Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Giancarlo Guerrero.
    • Naxos 8572271.
    • Naxos.
    • 1.

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