Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Invierno Porteño - Nuevo Tango Quintet TM

It is only 63.4 km from Sânnicolau Mare to Timișoara. Sânnicolau Mare is the birthplace of Béla Bartók, whose portrait hung above Piazzolla's bed and who was in many ways a guiding musical presence for Piazzolla. Timișoara is the birthplace of the Nuevo Tango Quintet TM, a remarkable new, Romanian tango ensemble for which Piazzolla is clearly a guiding musical presence. Rarely have I heard a new quintet capture the spirit of Piazzolla's music as well as the Nuevo Tango Quintet TM and that they can do so without so much as a visit to Buenos Aires or a bandoneón player suggests some mystical Bartókian connection has been formed between this quintet and Piazzolla's music. As an example of their work, today's video highlights their performance of Invierno Porteño. I could have chosen any of the other eight Piazzolla works which have been posted on Alin Stoianovici's YouTube channel - they are all well performed.

Piazzolla chose the musicians for his quintets from the classical world, from the jazz world and from the world of the popular tango music of Buenos Aires. The important thing was not their training but rather that they could feel and "swing," in a canyengue sense, the music. Similarly the musicians of the Nuevo Tango Quintet come from varied backgrounds. Pianist, Roxana-Yvonne Coşereanu, and violinist, Sascha Bota, are from the classical world. Guitarist, Ionuţ Dorobanţu, and contrabassist, Johnny Bota, are from the jazz world. And accordionist, Alin Stoianovici, comes from the pop music world having played previously with such groups as Anca Pop and Neurotica. The group came together for a onetime Anivertango performance in celebration of the 90th anniversary of Piazzolla's birth. That concert was held on March 9, 2011 at the Operei Romane din Timisoara and the featured video comes from that concert. Considering that the musicians have quite possibly never even heard the word, canyengue, they are well on their way to capturing it.

It is clear that these musicians have listened carefully to Piazzolla and are working from something close to original quintet scores. They are striving for authenticity in their sound. And, in their tempo, dynamics and phrasing they have succeeded remarkably well; but, they have work remaining to do. Most of the work needs to be done by Stoianovici who either strays from the score or needs to do some transcription work to improve the score and get closer to the Piazzolla original. A particularly egregious example of straying can be found at 5'30" into the video where Stoianovici plays a very un-Piazzolla-like chromatic run. It doesn't sound bad, but it is not Piazzolla. Purists will also note that the accordion is no substitute for a bandoneón but realists will point out that finding a bandoneónist in Timișoara is about as likely as finding a Cobza player in Buenos Aires. While still quite new as an ensemble, this group has the potential to become one of the best Piazzolla-style quintets in Europe. Let's hope they stay together long enough to record and tour and maybe Alin Stoianovici will even take up the bandoneón in the future.

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  1. I attended Nuevo Tango Quintet TM's performance in March and loved it. I missed the sound of the bandoneon, but it was compensated with a lot of passion and respect for the music; knowing the background of the musicians, it was a nice surprise to see how the spirit of Piazzolla tight them together. I hope to hear them again!

  2. Keep up the good work, guys!

  3. Well done guys. I think there are points where sinchronisation and feel still need a bit of work, but that can be only done by playing more, which everyone would enjoy anyway. Keep it up!