Others have marveled that Piazzolla, a bandoneón player, could write music so naturally for the guitar. Tango Suite is a perfect example. The piece was composed in 1984 for guitar duo, Sérgio and Odair Assad, and is a standard in the repertoire of guitar duos. Perhaps there is a clue to Piazzolla's view of the guitar in the deconstruction and reassembly of the piece for bandoneón and guitar in today's video of Tango Suite. Piazzolla's voice is so clear in the bandoneón part of this video that one is tempted to think that Piazzolla wrote a bandoneón duet and transcribed it for guitar. Could that be the secret of his success with guitar?
This bandoneón/guitar version of Tango Suite is the result of some remarkable insight on the part of Santiago Cimadevilla and Marcos Di Paolo, both of whom are credited with the arrangement in the notes to the video. Most players follow the Assad model very assiduously - Cimadevilla and Di Paolo do not. They feel free to choose their own pace and their own phrasing. Di Paolo's guitar work is, as best I can follow it, directly from the score and his phrasing and touch is absolutely perfect. But the transfer of the other guitar voice to bandoneón is a significant work of musical creativity. It is not a transcription. It is an understanding of the musical message and translation of it into the voice of the bandoneón. Cimadevilla must be a careful student of Piazzolla's bandoneón technique. He has captured the ornamentation and nuanced phrasing of Piazzolla so well that I could swear it is Piazzolla himself playing at times. The work sounds totally natural as a bandoneón/guitar duet and, in a sense, has a more authentic Piazzolla sound than the original.
Based on my survey of Piazzolla works posted on YouTube in 2009 and 2010, Tango Suite is the 15th most performed work of Piazzolla. Most (76%) of the versions posted are played by a guitar duo but a significant number are versions which have been transcribed for other instruments - most commonly for two marimbas or vibraphone/marimba in a commercial arrangement by Kevin Super. There are also commercial arrangements for woodwind quintet and piano trio and performances by bassoon quartets, saxophone quartets and even saxophone and orchestra. All of these take the music a step away from authentic Piazzolla. The Cimadevilla/Di Paolo arrangement is the only one which takes the music a step closer to an authentic Piazzolla sound. Cimadevilla may not be the first to hear the bandoneón voice in the Tango Suite. In 1996, Al Di Meola asked bandoneónist, Dino Saluzzi, to join him on his interpretation of Tango Suites for the classic recording, Di Meola Plays Piazzolla. Saluzzi's work complements the guitar duo found on the Di Meola recording but in no way does it become a full voice in the musical dialog. The work by Cimadevilla and Di Paolo is unique and, I believe, the best of the alternate arrangements of Tango Suite.
There is a separate video for each of the three movements of Tango Suite. I have chosen to provide only the first below. I encourage you to also watch the second movement, Andante, and the third movement, Allegro. If the first movement, Deciso, does not appear below, click here.
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