Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sobre Héroes y Tumbas

Complexities abound. Today's video features a film made by Mario Sabato with a musical score by Piazzolla. The film mixes fact and fiction about the writing of the novel, Sobre Héroes y Tumbas, by Ernesto Sabato, father of the film maker. You will see Ernesto Sabato, himself, speaking at the beginning of the film. He is still living, turns 100 this year and is a most interesting man. He is one of the world's most famous human rights activists, a former communist who studied in Moscow, a PhD physicist who worked at the Curie Institute in Paris and at MIT in the USA. However, in 1943, he gave up science and devoted himself to writing, in surrealistic terms, about his native Argentina. Sobre Héroes y Tumbas was his second book and is still viewed by many as his masterpiece although his most famous work must be the Nunca Más which set out the evidence of the disappearance of thousands under the military dictatorship of Argentina.

The movie was made in 1963, and the music featured throughout the short film is titled, Introducción a Héroes y tumbas (my thanks to Pedro-with-the-golden-ears for identification of the piece). The work can be found on the reissue CD, Tango Contemporaneo. On the CD, a reading by Sabato from his novel is included above the music at the end of the seven minute piece. The performance in both the movie and the CD is by the group referred to as the "New Octet" which included José Bragato - cello, Jaime Gosis - piano, Antonio Agri - violin, Oscar López Ruiz - electric guitar, Lee Jacobson - percussion, Jorge Barone - flute, Kicho Díaz - contrabass, and Piazzolla - bandoneón. The music is narrative in form but makes up in evocativeness what it lacks in structure. It is not dissimilar from other music composed for the new octet but it was, at the time, not popular - perhaps a bit too complex for the broader audience to which Piazzolla was beginning to appeal. But from today's perspective, the music was merely foreshadowing the depth of compositional skill which has made Piazzolla's music so attractive to the classical community.

There is another layer adding to the complexity of the story. The female lead in the movie is Egle Martin. According to the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, Ms. Martin and Piazzolla began a personal relationship around the time this movie was made. It was Ms. Martin who in 1967, sketched out the idea which Horacio Ferrer and Piazzolla turned into the operita, Maria de Buenos Aires. She, in fact, was destined to play the leading role in the initial production until a personal crisis led Ms. Martin to return to her wealthy rancher husband rather than continue her relationship with Piazzolla. Amelita Baltar took Ms. Martin's place in both the personal relationship and in the role of Maria in the operita.

The movie is in two parts - both are provided below. If the videos do not appear below, click here for part one and here for part two.

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

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