Thursday, May 14, 2009


Contrabajissimo is a special work. It was written to spotlight Héctor Console, the contrabassist in Piazzolla's final quintet. It was the sole piece played at Piazzolla's funeral. It is a difficult piece and not performed frequently. The performance of the piece by the London Tango Quintet at the Dean & Chadlington Summer Music Festival in today's video is enjoyable but not without some room for improvement. The bassist, Richard Pryce, is clearly talented but tentative and restrained in his performance, almost as if he is sight-reading the piece. I sense he understands the music and encourage him to go deeper into the music in future performances. A more serious problem with the performance is the use of an acoustic guitar. Piazzolla wrote for both the acoustic and the electric guitar. He understood and took advantage of the differences in sustain and timbre in these two different instruments. There are delicate duets between bass and guitar and violin and guitar in Contrabajissimo which simply do not work on acoustic guitar. As difficult as it is for a classical guitarist to pick up an electric guitar, they must do it to properly respect a work as important as Contrabajissimo.

If you are intrigued by the performance in today's video, I encourage you to sample one of Piazzolla's two recorded versions of the piece. One is on The Central Park Concert recording and the other on Tango: Zero Hour. I prefer Héctor Console's performance on the latter although I understand others prefer the live ambience in the former.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

No comments:

Post a Comment