Sunday, August 28, 2011

Una Nostalgia Pura - Magdalena León

What is the story behind Una nostalgia pura? Did Piazzolla really compose it or is at forgery? You won't find it on any list of Piazzolla compositions. I am hoping that Magdalena León who sings Una nostalgia pura in today's featured video knows the answer and will share it with us. All internet references to the song refer to Ms. León singing it - it is apparently exclusively hers.

My guess is that it is authentic. The lyricist is reported to be Eladia Blazquez, a good friend of Piazzolla and a very talented tango artist. The Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, reports that Ms. Blazquez was a frequent guest to the Piazzolla household, that she played impromptu piano/bandoneón duets with Piazzolla, played scrabble with Piazzolla and even went shark fishing with Piazzolla. She provided lyrics, approved by Piazzolla, for the instrumental works Adios Nonino and Invierno Porteno and collaborated with Piazzolla to create Siempre se vuelve a Buenos Aires. That same book reports that Piazzolla recruited Ms. Blazquez and Horacio Ferrer to provide lyrics for some hastily composed songs for a 1982 concert with Roberto "El Polaco" Goyeneche. Those songs were never used (you can hear the songs that were used on this recording) and I speculate that Una nostalgia pura was originally composed for Goyeneche to sing at that concert and went unsung until Ms. León somehow found the work.

Ms. León was born in Spain but moved to Buenos Aires at age twelve. She established a career as a singer of latin music, not just tango, and notably once sang with the Buenos Aires 8. She is perhaps better known today as a vocal coach, a music educator and author of the book, El Arte de Respirar. She remains a wonderful singer, as this video attests, and you can find Una nostalgia pura and seventeen other canciones on her CD, Entre Amigos - En Vivo.

I don't think Una nostalgia pura has the enduring qualities to become a significant Piazzolla work but I am grateful that Ms. León has rescued it from obscurity.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

Note added 11 September, 2011: Ms. León responded to my request for more infomation about Una nostalgia pura with the following message as translated to me by her artistic manager, Daniele Morganti:

The song is from Eladia Blazquez and A. Piazzolla, and it's one of the last they composed together. It is not a famous song, and - so far I know - I am the only person who has recorded it. This song has a huge vocal range and that's the reason that makes it so difficult to perform "Una Nostalgia pura." Piazzolla never wrote easy music, but always beautiful.

I decided to perform this song while I was recording my album Magdagrafias. Eladia herself invited me to have a look at some of her songs, between them I found "Honrar la vida" and "Una nostalgia pura". I decided to record them in the same album, but the label Warner Music - which I worked with in those years - chose not to put "Una nostalgia pura" in that album - due to the high number of songs already there.

So, finally, "Una Nostalgia pura" was put in the next album, with the arrangement of the Maestro Roberto Lopez, my music director.

My thinking is that "Una Nostalgia Pura" is a sort of continuum of the thought exposed by Eladia Blazquez in the earlier song "Honrar la vida". She was a Galician and was very talented, a wonderful person who always bet on life.

Ms. León's comments about the vocal range demanded by the song suggest that I was wrong in my speculation about the song being written for Goyeneche. Goyeneche's vocal range had become limited at that stage of his career and Piazzolla would not have composed such a demanding song for him.

My thanks to Ms. León and to Daniele Morganti for providing this important additional information.

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