Sunday, June 21, 2009

Kissing Toads

You have to kiss a lot of toads to find the prince. Most of the hundred or so versions of Libertango which appear on YouTube each month are toads but today's video is a prince. The group performing is called Tangamente and they hail from Bloomington, Indiana - not the center of tango but it is a center of fine musicians and the musicians in Tangamente are fine or better.

Their version of Libertango opens with a bluesy piano solo by Alfredo Manetti that immediately captured me - I have not heard anything like it as a prelude to Libertango and it works great. Bandoneónist, Valeriano Fernandez, then joins in a flowing duet with the piano and is soon joined by bassist, Michael Mendelson, violinist, Daniel Stein and electric guitarist, Guido Sanchez to fill a traditional quintet. I would guess that Tangamente is working from an original Piazzolla quintet score but have not hesitated to swing out on their own. There are large differences between the way Piazzolla played Libertango from the time he introduced it in 1974 to his last recording of the piece in 1985. You will find a little bit of early and late Piazzolla in this performance (e.g. the frenetic guitar work near the end is early and the jumping intervals at the end are late).

This video, I believe, captures a performance that Tangemente made in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington in May, 2009. There are some other clips from that performance available on YouTube. Don't miss their performance of Buenos Aires hora cero or the sensitive bandoneón work in Preludio para la cruz del sur.

Tangamente may represent the best Piazzolla performance group in America today. I hope they find time to expand their Piazzolla repertoire and record it for posterity (and iTunes).

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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