Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bordel 1900 - Marc Grauwals & Astoria

Today's video features flute player Marc Grauwals as a guest with the tango quintet, Astoria, playing Bordel 1900 as arranged by Astoria accordionist, Christophe Delporte. Grauwals has a special relationship to this piece. Piazzolla dedicated his Histoire du tango series (Bordel 1900 is the first in that series) to Grauwals; Grauwals premiered the piece in 1985 with guitarist, Guy Lukowski; and, later that same year made the first recording of it, again with Lukowski, on a Teldec lp. That performance, which is still available on the reissue CD, Hommage à Liège, remains today the definitive performance of the Histoire series.

Today's performance is quite different from that of 1985 - you notice it almost immediately with the sound of a police whistle joining that of the flute on the fourth note of the piece. And then it gets really interesting. The melody moves around, percussion adds tasteful highlights, the piece bobs and weaves and then comes home with a smile. The Histoire series were written for flute and guitar but have been arranged for many combinations of instruments including full orchestra. Delporte's arrangement is the best, by far, of any transmutation of the guitar/flute combination to another set of instruments I have ever heard. The musicians are spectacularly good but the arrangement is a work of true creative genius. You will find this Bordel 1900 and the other three sections of the Histoire on Astoria's new CD, Histoire Du Tango. This is the third Astoria recording devoted to the music of Piazzolla (Tiempo del Angel in 2006 and Adios Nonino in 2008 were the first two). Astoria has never sought to duplicate the quintet sound of Piazzolla but have always been true to the spirit and foundations of the music. With each released recording, they have become a little more free with their interpretations and now have a voice which is unique in the Piazzolla world. And it is a voice which deserves repeated listening.

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