Monday, August 31, 2009

A Summer Evening in Provence

It is summer in Provence. We are in La Farlède on a lovely evening and there is a band in the village square. The lights are strung across the plane trees and there is a hint of lavender in the air. The village has gathered there and the band is playing Piazzolla's Adios Nonino.

We arrive just as Vincent Houdijk starts a creative credenza on the vibraphone accompanied by a nearby motorbike. Then the band joins in to fill in the rest of the notes. Don't miss the vibraphone "assistant" who appears and interupts Houdijk, 4'45" into the piece.

The arrangement is credited to Peter Kleine Schaars and is the best band arrangement of Adios Nonino that I have ever heard. The band is no village band but is rather a symphonic wind orchestra,the Vakantieorkest AdHoc, which reforms every year (hence the name AdHoc) in the Netherlands for a 10 day performance tour into the smaller villages of the Provence region of France. It was led this year by Sander Teepen, his second year in that role. I hope he brings back AdHoc next year.

You can hear more AdHoc at JDSchaftenaar's YouTube channel. I particularly enjoyed their performance of Lord Tullamore.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Milonga For Three

This one is important. Slow down, empty your mind and breath slowly before you click Play on today's feature. It is a remarkable version of Milonga for Three played by the Novosibirsk Pops Orchestra led by Viktor Ivanov. The music was a commission by the Intar Hispanic American Arts Center for a production titled Tango Apasionato which depicts the origin and development of the tango. Piazzolla's performance of the work is captured on the Kip Hanrahan produced album, The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night. The liner notes for that album quote Piazzolla as saying "this record needs the darkness of a nostalgic dream." For me, Milonga for three achieves that both on the original album and in this performance.

Other than the single website that is linked above, I can find essentially no information about Viktor Ivanov or the Novosibirsk Pops orchestra but am enormously impressed by the seven Piazzolla performances they have posted on YouTube. Novosibirsk is the largest city in Siberia and the third largest in Russia. Their Philharmonic Orchestra is famed for their string section and they have recorded and toured widely. The 25 member "Pops" or "Variety" orchestra is one of a number of "Collectives" which fall under the umbrella of the Novosibirsk Philharmonic. It was founded in 2008, from what was originally the Ensemble of the Siberian Military District. The orchestra structure is unusual. There is the normal piano and large string section but it is augmented by an accordion, two saxophones, two trumpets, two trombones, a drummer, a guitarist and a bass electric guitar. All of the arrangements they play are fresh, bold and respectful of the originals. They are superb and deserve to be performed around the world. They are balanced arrangements. For example, often a pops orchestra with an accordion present would simply play "back-up" for an accordion playing Piazzolla's bandoneon part. For Milonga for three in Novosibirsk they moved the bandoneon part to saxophone and the accordion is actually silent throughout the piece. It was a excellent decision on the part of the arranger. As I listened to the other six performances in the series, I hear many such good decisions.

Superb musicians. Superb arrangements. Important music. OK...time to relax, breath slowly and click play (and if there is no video below, you can click here).

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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy and Piazzolla

Today's quiz: What is the connection between Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy, a 17th century musician and friend of Molière, and Astor Piazzolla?

The answer is Michael Jackson.

Dr. Walter Semkiw has recently revealed that Michael Jackson was the reincarnation of Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy. And then, there is this "fanvid" from Japan where a very creative Michael Jackson fan has rechoreographed a Michael Jackson MTV-style video (or perhaps it is actually a Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy video) to fit the music of Piazzolla's Primavera Porteña. It works amazingly well.

Tomorrow's quiz: For what Michael Jackson song was the video originally created?

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Maria de Buenos Aires - Girona, Spain

Piazzolla's operita, Maria de Buenos Aires, was not a big hit when it was introduced in 1968 at the Sala Planeta in Buenos Aires. Reviews from the time, quoted in the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, suggest that the audience expected an opera and got an oratorio where the singers, musicians and choir remained in place on the stage. Most subsequent performances are much more elaborately staged with dancers, multiple scene changes and special effects. Today's featured performance returns to the original oratorio-like format.

But more important than the format is that this performance must represent a true labor of love. It was put on by students, alumni and faculty of the Conservatorio de Música in Girona, Spain under the direction of Jorgelina Giordano. Anyone who has been involved in such a production knows this is a massive effort. The result is successful and the young people involved have a created for themselves a memory which I believe they will treasure in later life. Hopefully, they have become fans of Piazzolla's music.

The full performance is captured in 15 videos. Rodolfo Jäger, the male lead in the production and Guillermo Gomez Alvareza, the guitarist in the production perform together as Tanghoyde. They have posted all 15 videos on their YouTube channel. I have chosen to feature Tangus Dei below simply because you see the entire ensemble there. If you are interested in seeing more, I suggest you view Fuga y misterio which highlights the instrumentalists, Tema de Maria which features an unnamed but excellent singer as Maria, and Alevare, which features Jäger.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rock Opera

I interrupt this blog for a special broadcast:

If you are reading this in Facebook, you will have to view this interruption by clicking here to see Dario Schmunck, an Argentine tenor, singing Salut demeure from Gounod's Faust.

With that image in mind, the blog returns to the Argentine rock group, Targo and their performance of Libertango which is featured today. As the video opened, I expected the standard rock band version of Libertango and I got it until the vocalist opened his mouth. As you no doubt have surmised by now, the vocalist is Dario Schmunck. The result is an unexpected mix of rock and opera. Targo seems to be making a habit of creating the unexpected mix - their (yet to be released?) album Argentino contains collaborations with former Piazzolla vocalist, Raúl Lavié (singing Por una cabeza) and Carla Pugliese (granddaughter of the Osvaldo Pugliese, a recent subject in this blog).

My brain still has not overcome the Rock Opera disconnect, but it does look like they are having fun.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Libertango - A House Music Version

Classical, jazz and pop versions of Libertango have been featured in this blog. Today, we add to that list of Libertango genre with Johnwaynes' electronic dance version - more exactly, it is a "house music" version.

Johnwaynes are two DJ's, Jepe and MrBeat, from the northern part of Portugal. They are masters of the mix. If you are not familiar with this form of music, it involves interminably long stretches of music with a mesmerizing, steady and thumping beat enjoyed by large, pulsing crowds of people (sometimes chemically enhanced) in large strobe-lit rooms. The DJ's sit above the fray and mix song A and song B (while keeping the steady beat) and occasionally adding their own musical touch via a variety of sound generating gear. There is an art to the mix and an art to generating the songs in the mix. Jepe and MrBeat have created a new version of Libertango with some new core music created by four clarinets and an accordion. Into that they have blended a computer created bass beat and who-knows-what other bits of music from Jepe's collection. What you see in today's video is the short, MTV type version. There is also a radio play version and most importantly for DJ's and house dancers, eighteen minutes of Libertango on a 12" vinyl LP including a reprise and remix by the famous French electronic dance producer, Ludovic Llorca.

If you want to see a little Libertango house dancing in situ, you can attend the video clip release party here.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Original or Extra Crispy?

When it comes to Kentucky Fried Chicken, I prefer Original Recipe™ to Extra Crispy™. Likewise with Piazzolla, I generally prefer Original to a cover or to an alternate arrangement. But, I am willing to make an exception for today's video by Alexander Sevastian of Sentido unico, also known as Sens unique - both of which translate to "One Way" and were supposedly inspired by a "Sens Unique" traffic sign observed by Piazzolla in Paris in 1955.

Piazzolla was in Paris in 1955 studying composition with famed teacher, Nadia Boulanger. It was on the advice of Ms. Boulanger that Piazzolla accepted his tango roots and developed his unique style of composition. Union rules prevented Piazzolla from performing on stage in Paris but did not prevent him from composing and recording. He recorded one of his most famous albums, Sinfonia de tango, which contained eight pieces which he had composed under the tutelage of Boulanger. That 10" LP on the Vogue label is now a collector's item but you may still find a Japanese import or the discontinued reissue, Paris 1955 if you are persistent. Sens unique is one of those eight songs. There are hints of the future Piazzolla in the music but it is far more romantic and gentle than his later works. Were it not for a few discordant notes from the bandoneon, it would almost fall into the category of boring.

The performance by Sevastian retains the themes of Piazzolla's original but is almost a new composition - even structurally. And, to my ears it is a much more enjoyable work. Alexander Sevastian is originally from Minsk, Belarus and has done extremely well in global musical competitions. He is no doubt a rising star in the world of serious accordion music. There are other serious accordionists who play a similar version of Sens unique - Lidia Kaminska for one, which makes me wonder if this is a commercial arrangement for accordion. If so, the arranger (perhaps Frank Marocco) deserves recognition. It is not often that an arranger improves on Piazzolla but this is one of those cases where I prefer my Piazzolla "Extra Crispy" rather than "Original."

Note: Subsequent to the original posting of this blog, Mr. Sevastian has informed me that the arrangement of Sentido unico is his own. He is to be congratulated on both an excellent arrangement and an excellent performance.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Monday, August 24, 2009

Duoalleviguidi: One Piano - 4 Hands

Pablo Ziegler and Emanuel Ax, moved Piazzolla firmly into the repertoire of piano duo teams with their 1997 recording, Los Tangueros. Two, back-to-back, grand pianos sounding Ziegler-inspired arrangements of Piazzolla are now a familiar sight on stage and in YouTube. But there is another way for two pianists to play duets and that is four hands on one piano. Duoalleviguidi, featured in today's video, may well move Piazzolla more firmly into the repertoire of the one piano - 4 hands teams.

Duoalleviguidi consists of pianists Anna Allevi and Stefano Guidi and they have been playing one piano - 4 hands together since 1986. They have a new touring program based on tango music - most of it by Piazzolla - and all of it arranged by themselves. They have shared eight of their Piazzolla performances in YouTube videos which you can find listed on their channel. The performance I have chosen to feature is not their best, nor my favorite, but it is the most unusual: Milonga from Midsummer Night's Dream, another rarely heard Piazzolla composition (that seems to be a theme this month). This milonga was written in 1983 by Piazzolla in collaboration with accordionist/bandoneónist Richard Galliano for a production of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream staged by Jorge Lavelli at the Comédie Française. Piazzolla never recorded the music although Galliano did in the 2003 release, El Sueno de una Noche de Verano. In a private communication, duoalleviguidi tell me that their arrangement was derived from the publication for solo piano, El Viaje, published by Boosey & Hawkes. That same communication indicated their expectation that a CD of their Piazzolla performances will be released before the end of 2009.

Please do enjoy some of the other Piazzolla videos provided in the duoalleviguidi channel. The overhead screen gives an unusual and good view of their hands so you can appreciate their technique. Their arrangements are honest and quite straight forward, producing music which is accessible, cinematic and flowing.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jorge Borges - 1964

In 1965, Piazzolla had a short collaboration with Argentina's most famous literary figure, Jorge Luis Borges, which led to the difficult-to-find recording, El Tango. But that was not the only place where Piazzolla and Borges intersected. Piazzolla also wrote music to accompany a movie based on a Borges short novel, La intrusa. And, he wrote music featured in our video today to accompany lyrics from another Borges poem, Mil novecientos sesenta y cuatro (which translates to "Nineteen Sixty-four").

Nineteen Sixty-four is sung beautifully in today's video by the Coro Juvenil Femenino de Córdoba, conducted by Gustavo Baez. They were singing at the Sixth International Choral Festival "San Juan Coral", organized by Coro de la Universidad Católica de Cuyo in San Juan, Argentina. The original version was sung by Ney Matogrosso, a phenomenal and most unusual singer who represents a cross between Tiny Tim and Gene Simmons. The record itself is quite unusual. It was a single inserted into a Ney Matogrosso LP. It was only available for a very short period because the Brazilian government banned it, presumeably because of the lyrics in Nineteen Sixty-four. My SSD (Spanish Speaking Daughter-in-law) tells me the chorus of the song goes something like this: "I'll no longer be happy. Maybe it doesn't matter. There are many other thoughts in the world that are more profound." Perhaps the leaders of the 1964 coup d'etat in Brazil believed the words were aimed at them. The full story of the recording is well told in a 2006 Brazilian Nuggets blog.

As rare as an original copy of El Tango may be, an original copy of Ney Matogrosso's single containing Nineteen Sixty-four is probably even rarer. The video below represents the only version of the song on YouTube - it is even rare there.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

Note added 26 July, 2012: The original posting of the blog indicated that the Argentinian government banned the song.  That information was incorrect.  As noted in the comment below, it was the government of Brazil which banned the song. I have modified the blog and added a link referencing the 1964 coup d'etat in Brazil.

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

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Marching Music's Major League

DCI - Drum Corps International - Marching Music's Major League. Still confused? Welcome to a musical subculture which I have, until today, overlooked. A culture of drum corps competing under the auspices of DCI in over 100 events each year culminating in a world championship event which was won in 2008 by the Phantom Regiment from Rockford, Illinois.

Piazzolla had a drum corps in the 2009 race: the Citations Drum & Bugle Corp from Burlington, Massachusetts. The Citations production routine this year included a performance of Michelangelo 70 and Libertango. And with a front ensemble of seven members playing 3 vibraphones, 3 marimbas, a xylophone, glockenspiel, and auxillary percussion; and behind them, a dozen drummers, and three dozen or so brass players, it is a Michelangelo 70/Libertango unlike any you have heard before. The video shows them in a "Standstill concert" at the 2009 Quarter finals in Paw Paw, Michigan. I am pleased to report that our corps took the bronze in the 2009 Open Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Blue Devils B from Concord, California took home the top open trophy.

Maybe next year.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pablo Ziegler - Now and Then

Pablo Ziegler was in his mid-thirties when he joined Piazzolla's newly formed second quintet in 1978. At that time, he was already a successful jazz pianist and composer with his own quartet and a growing reputation. For ten years he toured and recorded with the quintet ending only when Piazzolla dissolved the quintet to undergo a quadruple bypass at the age of 67. Those ten years represent to many, myself included, the peak of Piazzolla's life as a musician. Ziegler contributed much to that success. Not only as prodigious pianist but also as a force who increasingly brought a jazz tinge to Piazzolla's music.

When the quintet dissolved, Ziegler reformed his own quartet as the "Quarteto para el nuevo tango" and channeled his years of experience with Piazzolla into a flow of nuevo tango infused jazz which continues to this day. Many albums and many, many concerts later, Ziegler has become today the most successful Piazzolla alumnus. His 2003 album, Bajo Cero, won the 2005 Latin Grammy as best tango album of the year and the album Buenos Aires Report was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2008.. He continues to play his arrangements of Piazzolla compositions but also plays many of his own nuevo tango compositions which are becoming classics in their own right.

To experience Pablo both now and then, I am featuring two videos today. The first a 1984 performance of Chin chin by the quintet at the Montreal Jazz Festival with Ziegler at the piano. The second is a performance of the same piece twenty-five years later. In fact, the performance was last week at the Belleayre Music Festival in Highmount, NY. Joining Ziegler in that performance are Hector Del Curto on bandoneón and Claudio Ragazzi on guitar. The jazz influence in the current version is so strong, I had to turn to my friend and Piazzolla listening expert, Pablo in NYC, to confirm that the piece was Chin chin.

If the videos do not appear below click here for 1984 and here for 2009.

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Rarity: Yo Soy El Negro

It is a candombe - not a tango - and it's rare. Today's feature is the only appearance of Yo soy el negro on YouTube. It is the only candombe written by Piazzolla, the only cancion in which he collaborated with playwright, Carlos Gorostiza for lyrics, and the only song recorded which was both written by Piazzolla and sung by the classic tango vocalist, Jorge Sobral. It was included in a 10 inch LP, issued in 1957 on the Sandor label (which is also quite rare today). The story of that recording is well documented in a La Página article which can be read here.

The candombe is a Uruguayan dance form based on African rhythms. Some view it as the basis for the Brazilian samba - which I think you can hear in this performance. The original version from that Sandor recording is available on a reissue and is a quite different example of the song. Both start with the candombe rhythm but the original morphs into almost a broadway showtune before recapturing the candombe rhythm towards the end of the song. The version in the video has much more drive and urgency and a jazz feel as you might expect from a latin jazz songstress like Maria Cangiano who provides the vocal. Ms. Cangiano has recently released a CD, Ballads for My Life and Death: A Tribute to Piazzolla, which contains Yo soy el negro and six other Piazzolla songs.

Thanks, Maria to you and your band for bringing us some rarely heard Piazzolla.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Fair Share For The Accordion

If anyone is counting, they will recognize that this blog under reports accordion performances. Last month, more than 20% of the Libertango performances featured the accordion. Last month, this blog featured zero of those performances. It is time to correct that oversight with a just-for-fun version of Libertango by accordion duo Pino and Gianni. Highlights include a turquoise flowered shirt and flashing LED's for Pino and matching turquoise shoes for Gianni. Don't miss the ending. These guys have fun.

As usual, there is a bit more to the story. Pino is Pino Di Modugno, a concert accordionist with some of the fastest fingers on the planet and a half dozen records to his credit (some tunes available for download on If you are Italian, you will probably recognize Gianni but perhaps not with an accordion in his hands. He is Gianni Ciardo, a well know Italian actor who took time off from a busy television and movie-making schedule to make this video.

Score one for the accordions.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

OK - just one. No one reads this far anyway. A local lady being driven crazy by her husband playing Libertango endlessly on his accordion sneaked the instrument into the backseat of her car. She drove the car to the corner of 4th and Lincoln, a crime ridden part of town, and left the car unlocked - fully confidant that the accursed accordion would be stolen by the time she finished her cup of coffee at a nearby McDonald's. Returning in about an hour she was dismayed to find three accordions and a banjo in the backseat.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fuga Y Misterio - Che Trio

Fuga y misterio was incidental music for Piazzolla's 1968 operita, Maria de Buenos Aires. The music, one of three instrumentals in the work, accompanied action on the stage where Maria leaves the barrio, arrives in the city and walks around observing the nightlife. It opens with a 12-bar, three part fugue and then abruptly changes into music which would still be comfortable in a Broadway musical. It is a favorite of classical musicians but is rarely heard in the jazz idiom. That has been an oversight based on the marvelous jazz interpretation by the Che Trio which is featured today.

This performance was filmed in 2007, at the annual Encuentro de Musicos Populares in Rosario, Argentina. The trio had just released an album, Guitarras Del Mundo, which contained this piece along with a second Piazzolla piece, Fracanapa. The trio includes two fine guitarists, Daniel Homer and Ricardo Lew whose resumes suggest they are in strong demand as touring and back-up musicians. In addition, Homer writes much of the music the trio performs. The third member of the trio, is Daniel Homer's nephew, Lucas Homer on bass guitar. The trio is joined here by young saxophonist, Victor Carrion, whose feel for this music belies his age. Together, they provide a well assembled and crisp performance that kept my attention from start to finish. The trio has two other recordings, Tres al Toque and Barrio San Vincente which look interesting although they do not contain any additional Piazzolla.

As far as I can tell, Che Trio is not performing together today but YouTube contains a good set of other pieces performed by the group at the 2007 Encuentro in Rosario. If you enjoyed their Fuga y misterio, you will enjoy the others also.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Adios Nonino on a Stradivarius??

Yes, two question marks apply to today's featured performance by Adrian Justus, Genya Podolich, and Edmond Gilmor who form the Trio Libertango. The first question mark applies to the title, Adios Nonino. The arrangement this talented trio plays is highly original. Since Justus is also a composer and student of composition, I am willing to speculate that it is his arrangement. It is good listening and at one point where the bass and piano introduce a strong, repetitive figure - it is wonderful listing. But is it Adios Nonino? Jazz musicians get a wide range of forgiveness for their meanderings from central themes but most keep classical musicians on a tighter leash. Leonid Desyatnikov, arranger of much of Gidon Kremer's Piazzolla catalog, has pushed the boundaries. His insertions of Vivaldi gestures into Piazzolla's "Seasons" are quietly being becoming the orchestral standard, displacing José Bragato's presumeably Piazzolla-approved orchestral arrangements. Other than those additions though, Desyatnikov, is true to the intention of the original Piazzolla scores. On the other hand, Justus adds much to the original Adios Nonino and only occasionally dips into real Piazzolla for harmonic, rhythmic and melodic guidance. For my money, this is not Adios Nonino; this is Fantasia on a Theme by Astor Piazzolla.

The second question mark applies to the Stradivarius. Justus's bio indicates he plays the "Marlborough Stradivarius (1718) which is loaned to him by the Juvi Cultural Foundation." Is it, in fact, that Strad which is used in this video? The Marlborough Stradivarius cello, once owned by the Duke of Marlborough, is a well known instrument. Justus's possibly related violin is apparently not well known enough to spark a mention on the web other than that in Justus's bio nor did I find any further mention on the web of the Juvi Cultural Foundation. My curiosity is piqued. Hopefully a reader will enlighten me.

Question marks aside, I enjoyed this performance. All three members of the trio perform well and the Fantasia is a piece of music worth repetition by other musicians. I would suggest only one change - please end the piece on that penultimate sublime high note on the violin (is that the "Paganini c", four octaves above middle c?) and take away the glissando back down the scale and the thumps on the bass at the end.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

White Boots and Chiffon vs. Black Suit and Silver Tie

Antoni Gaudi vs. Mies van der Rohe; Domenico Scarlatti vs. Hildegard; Paris, France vs. Paris, Texas; Oeufs A La Cantalienne vs. eggs over easy - thus it is with Elisa Tomellini vs. Saulo Gama. Two dramatically opposing approaches to the same thing, in this case to Adios Nonino. Elisa and Saulo are both very talented pianists. Elisa plays a rhapsodic version of Adios Nonino which includes many, many notes and much fancy stuff. She plays aggressively and with grace. Saulo plays a stripped down, minimalist version of Adios Nonino which contains almost no "extra" notes. He plays with great control and grace. To the most untrained ear, the contrast will be notable. It is a credit to the quality of Piazzolla's original composition that such dramatically different approaches can both produce wonderful music.

These are musicians with developing careers. Elisa is from Genova, Italy and is a regular on the piano competition circuit where she consistently does well. She plays here a "published" version which is based on the credenza Piazzolla wrote for Dante Amicarelli, a pianist in Piazzolla's first quintet. Saulo is from Salvador de Bahia, Brazil and his path is a little more difficult to track via Google but he appears to share his time between clubs and the concert stage with a focus on the classical music of Latin America. A personal communication with Saulo indicates this is his own arrangement of Adios Nonino.

Which one is better? You decide - they are both posted below.

If the videos do not appear below, click here for Elisa and here for Saulo.

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Birthday to Zé Marcio

Libertango is everywhere. For every Meditango played there are 75 Libertango's, for every Violentango there are 30, for every Milonga del angel there are 12, and for every Adios Nonino there are 3 Libertango's. On average, there are 95 performances of Libertango posted each month on YouTube. A number of those are shared on this blog every month. And, here is another one - chosen for its spontaneity and general feel good spirit.

The occasion is the birthday of Zé Marcio somewhere in Brazil. It's food, friends and the music of Astor Piazzolla provided by Zé Ivo on guitar (a nice, Brazilian jazz style), Chico providing the steady rhythm on the seven string guitar, Alisson on the tambourine and Bruno playing lead on the cavaquinho. The music is perfect - the food and drink look good too.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

If you really enjoy the party, it does continue.

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

Monday, August 10, 2009

July Review of Piazzolla Videos

There were 517 videos of Piazzolla’s music posted on YouTube in the month of July, 2009. 389 (75%) of the videos were performance videos featuring live performances. The others were videos which used Piazzolla’s music as a sound track for photo or video montages. I highlighted my journey through these many videos in this blog.

Thirty-three percent of the performance videos were in the classical mode, 32% in Nuevo tango, 17% in pop and 18% in jazz.

Here are the most frequently performed pieces this month (Libertango was the most frequently played – 23% of the total; the others follow in order):

1. Libertango
2. Adios Nonino
3. Oblivion
4. La muerte del ángel
5. Milonga del ángel
6. Verano Porteño
7. Invierno Porteño
8. Balada para un loco
9. Primavera Porteña
10. Tango Suite (1-3)

The top three on this list seem to be fairly stable month-to-month but the bottom seven change every month.

The performance videos came from 48 different countries. Argentina posted the most videos: 62. Switzerland appears on this list for the first time. The top ten posting countries are listed in order here:

1. Argentina
2. Italy
3. USA
4. Brazil
5. Spain
6. Germany
7. France
8. Japan
9. Russia
10. Mexico Portugal Switzerland (tie)

It was a bonanza month for video originals by Piazzolla – there were 30 of them. Eleven of those have been posted before but the others are important additions to the collection of Piazzolla live videos. They include an Amsterdam performance with Pugliese which includes La Yumba and Adios Nonino; an interview and additional performances from Amsterdam; a performance of Adios Nonino in an orchestral setting at the Teatro de Colon; a series of eight videos featuring the first electronic octet; and a series of videos from a performance with Gary Burton at the Ravenna Jazz Festival in 1986. The Gary Burton series continues into the month of August.

Quality of performance varied from excellent to bizarre. With the wealth of performances by Piazzolla himself, choosing the best video was difficult but I ultimately chose the classic performance of Adios Nonino by the combined Sextet and Pugliese orchestra. If that video does not appear below, click here.

The choice for most bizarre this month was less difficult: a conductor developing her skills on Lo que vendra. The “action” in this video starts after thirty-five seconds have passed. Good luck to the orchestra when she steps to the podium. If that video does not appear below, click here.

I have put a table with links to all 517 videos as well as some more information on the videos on the July link in my Piazzolla on Video website.

Best Video of the Month

Most Bizarre Video of the Month

Thursday, August 6, 2009

You Can Smell The Coffee

In a previous blog, a pair of fine musicians were accused of perverting Café 1930. In fact, I accused all performers of not evoking the spirit of tango in a 1930 San Telmo café in the piece. Today's feature is getting close. I can't see the tango but I can smell the coffee and see the lovers, quarrels and all, in this wonderful performance by Rubén Darío Reina on violín and Alessio Nebiolo on guitar. The performance was videoed on July 4, 2009 in the cathedral in Coria, Spain.

This piece was written originally for flute and guitar but the violin works so well here, it is hard to believe that it was not written for that instrument. It is the emotional content that makes this performance special and it would be difficult to duplicate on the flute. Even the overanxious audience and the occasional blip on the violin do not spoil the picture these two wonderful artists create.

This is my new favorite Café 1930.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Eight Year Old Pianist

There are quite a few piano recital versions of Piazzolla's music posted on YouTube by proud parents. While Guille's parents are no doubt proud, the performance featured today is not your usual recital piece. This is a Mozartian performance of La Muerte del Angel by eight year old Guillermo Salas in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Salas has one other equally impressive performance posted.

I can find no other information about young Mr. Salas on the web but it is only a matter of time before we learn more.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Adios Nonino - Ravenna Jazz Festival

Another new Piazzolla performance today: Adios nonino as performed by the quintet in 1986 at the Ravenna Jazz Festival. The other videos from this series included Gary Burton with the quintet but he is absent the stage in this performance.

With the possible exception of slightly more improvisation by Piazzolla near the end of the piece, the arrangement appears to be standard for the period. However, all live performances of this classic are special - enjoy it.

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