Saturday, June 20, 2009

Perfection or Perversion - Café 1930

Is today's video perfection or perversion? I can't decide. As chamber music the performance of Café 1930 from Piazzolla's Histoire du Tango suite by flutist Ann Elkjär and guitarist Martin Fogel is perfection or near to it. These are superb musicians. Technical skills at their level are a given - it is their nuanced performance skills of phrasing, dynamics and timing that give them perfection.

But, does the performance evoke tango in a San Telmo café in 1930? No - not to me. The Histoire du Tango suite was meant to depict the development of the tango from the Bordello of 1900 to the Café of 1930 to the Nightclub of 1960 to the Concert stage of "today" (1990). Rarely - no, I will make that never - have I heard the serious musicians who have "discovered" this music attempt to make it anything other than serious chamber music. In that sense, this performance is a perversion of what I believe is the intent of the music. Someday, somewhere, someone will find the musical language to really bring the Histoire du Tango suite to life.

And while we wait for that day, let's enjoy this performance which is a real delight. I hope they have similar videos of the other three movements of the Histoire ready to post on YouTube in the near future.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

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