In 1863, Paolo Soprani founded the accordion industry in Castelfidardo, Italy. The company he founded is still building fine accordions today and Castelfidardo has become the center of the accordion universe. Every October, the International Castelfidardo Accordion Festival is held there and includes a competition focused on the performance of works by Piazzolla. Today's video of Meditango was made at the Piazzolla competition portion of the festival this year.
Meditango is one of the seven pieces composed by Piazzolla in 1974 for the commercially oriented recording, Libertango. It is the third most popular of the seven (behind Libertango and Violentango) and is a favorite of nuevo tango musicians. While there is no information about the group associated with the video, the person posting the video has confirmed to me that the performance is by the Belarus Group. I can find no information about the group on the web but I do enjoy their music. The inclusion of two tsymbaly (hammered dulcimers) makes the instrumentation and sound of the group unique. They play an interesting arrangement - more jazz than nuevo tango. To judge the arrangement, you might first want to listen to Piazzolla's original recording here. The Belarus Group captures the sense of the first portion of the work fairly well but note the contrast which starts at the transition to the second portion of the piece. In the original, this occurs at 2'50" and at about 1'55" in the Belarus Group version. From that point to the end, the original is essentially a meditative, solo lament on the bandoneon while the Belarus Group still have much to say and it is not all meditative. While perhaps not exactly parallel to the intentions of the original, the arrangement is clever and makes good use of the broad textures available from the instrumentation of the group. You can hear the Belarus Group in a second jolly piece which perhaps works even better for their unusual instrumentation.
The performance was good enough to win second prize in the Piazzolla competition. The winner of the competition was the group Club Tango - perhaps the target of a future blog.
If the video does not appear below, click here.
To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.