Saturday, February 27, 2010

Michelangelo 70 - Javier Nandayapa

Today's featured video brings one of the world's best marimba players and members of Mexico's leading nuevo tango ensemble together in a performance of Michelangelo 70. Javier Nandayapa is from Chiapas - the center of the marimba world - and from a family of marimbists. The marimba is said to be the second oldest instrument in the world (drums are claimed to be older) and are believed to have originated in Java - how they got to Chiapas is not clear but there are instruments there which date back to the 16th century. Most of the Chiapan marimba music is of a folkloric nature but Nandayapa (the name means Green River in the Chiapan Indian language) clearly transcends that. He is not only incredibly skilled on the instrument - he is also a scholar who has lectured and published on the instrument. He performs as a soloist, as an ensemble member and with symphony orchestras around the world. Among his seven CD's is an album of solo marimba versions of Piazzolla compositions.

In this video, Nandayapa is celebrating 20 years of performing on the marimba with a concert at the Auditorio Blas Galindo in Mexico City. While the concert featured a number of musicians joining Nandayapa, today's video shows him performing with three members of the Tango Nuevo ensemble: Víctor Madariaga on bandoneón, Frania Mallorquín on Piano and Mario Cortéz on contrabass. You can see a number of their performances on Madariaga's YouTube channel. While my exposure to nuevo tango groups in Mexico comes only through YouTube, this group is by far the best I have seen from that country. Their precision in playing Michelangelo 70 with Nandayapa shows this is piece with which they are very familiar.

There are two other videos of Nandayapa and Tango Nuevo: Oblivion and Libertango. Those two videos show the range of Nandayapa's skills but their performance of Michelangelo 70 is, in my opinion, the best ensemble performance.

If the video of Michelangelo 70 does not appear below, click here.

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

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