Thursday, January 14, 2010

Early Piazzolla - Opus 15

By 1953, Piazzolla had assigned opus numbers to nineteen of his works. This I learned from the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango. The same book indicates that Opus 8 was written in in 1947. Today's video features a performance of Contemplación y Danza which is Opus 15, probably written in 1951. Around that time, Piazzolla had completed his formal composition lessons with Alberto Ginastera and "retired" from the tango world. He was determined to make his mark as a composer in the classical music world. We know today that he succeeded but it was not the result of works such as Opus 15 - it was the result of his synthesis of the nuevo tango as guided by his second composition teacher, Nadia Boulanger. As a result, his early works are rarely heard.

Today's video was my first exposure to Contemplación y Danza. It was composed for clarinet and string orchestra and the first section of it is performed here by Corrado Giuffredi on clarinet with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana(OSI) under the baton of Alexander Vedernikov. The notes accompanying the video and the informality of the musicians suggest this is a rehearsal but the performance is excellent. The orchestra has a full, smooth sound and Giuffredi's performance is controlled and nuanced - very fitting for the music. The piece reminds me of some of Ginastera's work but the contrasting second part of Contemplación y Danza, which unfortunately does not appear to exist on YouTube, hints strongly not of Ginastera, but of Stravinsky - one of Piazzolla's heros. You can hear that second part as played by the Orchestre de Chambre de Toulouse on their CD, Piazzolla: Contemplación e Danza (or download just the missing second part at the same website). The performance from Toulouse is good although I think Vedernikov and the OSI have a richer interpretation of the piece.

Contemplación y Danza, along with several other Piazzolla works, was performed by the OSI on January 9 in Lugano. A video from that performance will be featured in this blog tomorrow and if we are lucky, a video of the full performance of Contemplación y Danza will appear in the future. You may also want to view a second piece from the rehearsal, Adios Nonino, which also features the clarinet of Corrado Giuffredi.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

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