Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adios Nonino - Raúl di Blasio

What is the difference between Raúl di Blasio and Yanni? Nothing, most would say - in fact, they may actually be the same person. The hair, the doleful looks, the puffy satin shirts, the music created for Cialis® commercials - they all make a good case for that point of view. However, to my knowledge, Yanni has never played Piazzolla and as today's video of Adios Nonino demonstrates, Raúl di Blasio has.

Di Blasio was born in Zapala, Argentina in 1949. In 1969, he moved to Buenos Aires and reportedly practiced the piano 12 hours a day. He surely was aware of Piazzolla and his music at that time. It is tempting to dismiss di Blasio today as a new age pianist tapping the maudlin tastes of middle-aged women for cash but there is more to the man than that. He is a capable and serious musician who moved his talents through classical, jazz, and pop music before developing his own characteristic sound. He has played in clubs, stadiums and concert stages around the world. He is not just a technically skilled pianist - he is an arranger, an improviser and a composer. There are many parallels between Piazzolla and di Blasio as performers, but not as composers. Even di Blasio's best work, perhaps Corazon de Niño, is unlikely to tempt the classical musician.

It is as a performer that di Blasio has made his mark and the reasons for that are evident in today's video. He has a remarkable capability to bring emotional shape to music as demonstrated in his fluid and idiosyncratic version of Adios Nonino. Surely this arrangement was born during those 12 hour practice days in Buenos Aires. This video was made nearly twenty years ago and di Blasio has adopted a somewhat more austere style as evidenced in his most recent release, Primavera, but the flourishes and ornamentation which are rampant in the video still emerge as part of the emotional appeal of his music today.

So, until Yanni discovers Libertango, we have a way to tell the two men apart. If today's video does not appear below, click here.

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