Geneva, Switzerland based Quatuor Terpsycordes and bandoneónist, William Sabatier, have just provided what is certainly the definitive performance of Piazzolla's Five Tango Sensations on YouTube. Nothing else comes close.
Ken Hunts' liner notes for the 1989, Kronos Quartet CD, Piazzolla: Five Tango Sensations indicate that Five Tango Sensations was composed for the Kronos Quartet. That is not quite true. The correct story is to be found in the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango. Piazzolla composed the work in 1983 and recorded it on the album, Woe, with a quartet from the Graunke Orchestra in Germany. The same recording can also be found in volume three of the collection titled Piazzollissimo. In going from Woe to Tango Sensations, all the titles were changed - Sleeping becomes Asleep, Midnight becomes Loving, Desire becomes Anxiety, Woe Pass Away becomes Despertar, and Look Out becomes Fear. There are changes in the score but most changes are subtle. And, two movements were discarded completely, Woe and Awake. The loss of Woe is significant - it is a beautiful duet between bandoneón and cello and deserves to be heard.
The score for the work is readily available but it is not frequently performed. While there are many string quartets with the technical skills to perform the piece there are very few bandoneónist with the skill to meet the challenge. Most quartets turn to accordionists to cover the bandoneón part - but it is not the same. The timbre is different and mechanical differences between the two instruments lead to different phrasing. Quatuor Terpsycordes is fortunate to have found William Sabatier who has the technical skills and the knowledge of Piazzolla's music to provide, not a duplicate of Piazzolla's performance, but a completely valid and thematically consistent interpretation of the work. Likewise, the musicians of Quatuor Terpsycordes which includes Girolamo Bottiglieri and Raya Raytcheva on violin, Caroline Haas on viola and François Grin on cello, are superb musicians who, in most places, match the Kronos in the intensity, although not the flair, they bring to the music. You will find biographies of the musicians here. The performance was recorded at the Montebello Festival in Bellinzona, Switzerland on 8 July, 2010.
I have embedded only the first of Tango Sensations, Asleep, below. I encourage readers to also view Loving, Anxiety, Despertar and Fear to see the work as a whole.
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