Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's Not An Accordion

Today's video contains one of the best piano arrangements of Milonga del angel that I have heard. It is an original arrangement by Prof. John Mortensen of Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. Admirably, Mortensen started with the original quintet score and worked to capture all five parts in his arrangement. No one can replace ten hands with two, but a careful listen can find elements from all five parts in his work. I find his arrangement of the last section of the piece particularly appealing although I believe Piazzolla usually left the last note of that final arpeggio unspoken, creating an angelic void which Mortensen filled.

Mortensen's comments in the opening of the video are best enjoyed with the use of the fast forward button. Mortensen describes a milonga as a slow tango. Tango dancers would state the opposite - it is a happy, light and usually fast tango (example here). Piazzolla may have had the other meaning of the word - a gathering to dance - in choosing the title. Mortensen also says that Piazzolla played the accordion. It's not an accordion, it's a bandoneón. I suspect this was either fleeting aphasia or a simplifying statement so he could get to the piano and play because I am reasonably sure that any musician who plays the Irish accordion (as Mortensen apparently does) knows the difference between that instrument and the Anglo concertina and it's big brother, the bandoneón. I'll give him a pass on that, but the gelato analogy? Hmmm..

After watching Mortensen's performance you might want to judge his success in covering all five parts by watching this video of Piazzolla and his quintet performing Milonga del angel.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

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