Sunday, November 29, 2009

Violentango - Innovative String Quintet

Violentango originally appeared on the famed Libertango recording. It is one of a series of commercial pieces composed at the urging of Piazzolla's Italian agent, Aldo Pagani, to attract radio play. But it apparently had special appeal to Piazzolla. He recorded it for a second time with his Electronic Octet on the difficult to find LP, Olympia 77, but more significantly, he chose it to close the Carnegie Hall concert that the Electronic Octet performed in 1976. The Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, reports that the concert was attended by jazz greats Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond, Chick Corea and Herbie Mann and that Violentango brought the audience to their feet. Perhaps, then, it is no accident that most performances of Violentango on YouTube this year have been by jazz groups. Today's video, by the Innovative String Quintet (ISQ) from Palermo,Italy, is one of the relatively few classical approaches to Violentango this year.

And, the performance by the ISQ is superb. Production values are high as might be expected from a video made in a recording studio but more important is the crispness and precision of the performance and the very uniform interpretation of the piece which retains the essence of Piazzolla's tango but also contains the hallmarks of a classical string quintet. Members of the group are Luciano Saladino and Michele Campo - violins, Francesca Anfuso - viola, Andreea Timiras - cello, and Giuseppe D'Amico - contrabass. While not suggesting anything is lacking in the other performers, I would single out D'Amico's performance on bass as exceptional. He is the musician responsible for much of the tango sensitivity in this piece.

You will find a few more audio samples of Piazzolla as performed by the ISQ on their MySpace page but I hope they have additional Piazzolla performance videos which they will share in the 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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