Thursday, October 20, 2011

500 Motivaciones

Piazzolla "plugged in" in the mid-70's with several versions of an Octeto Electronico. Influenced by Chick Corea's sound and with the encouragement of his son, Daniel, who was among the pioneers playing the electronic synthesizer, he gathered seven musicians, including Daniel, and "electrified" his nuevo tango sound. You can see a 1975 example of that group here.

In 1976, influenced not by Corea but by the young musicians who were bringing a rock sound to tango, he very significantly changed the sound of the music to bring the aggressive sound of rock into his neuevo tango. The young rockers applauded the move but the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, indicates that Piazzolla was not so sure it was the right sound for him. The piece, 500 motivaciones, may be the best example of that sound. The work was featured in a famous concert in December, 1976 at Teatro Gran Rex in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, the Piazzolla discography contains no recording of 500 motivaciones. But, rumors have long persisted that a recording was made at Teatro Gran Rex and this week, a recording of 500 motivaciones made directly from the mix board at the Gran Rex made its way to the web. You can hear that recording, at least as I write this you can here it, at this link. There are many Piazzolla fans who have waited for years to hear this recording.

The sound is a bit rough, in the sense that the music does not sound as well rehearsed as usual - perhaps that is part of aiming for a looser rock sound. There are places where it seems that the flutist just can't quite keep up with the group (note that the Luis Ferreyra had replaced the Octeto's original flutist, Arturo Schneider, at this time) but it is a relentlessly driving work that still clearly comes from the pen of Piazzolla. The Octeto was disbanded shortly after the Gran Rex concert only to be reassembled with an almost totally different set of musicians (only Astor and Daniel were in both groups) for a series of performances at the Olympia Theater in France which have been captured on a French LP, Olympia 77. 500 motivaciones was featured at those concerts and was well received. But things never really gelled with this second version of the Octeto and Piazzolla disbanded it and abandoned the "electrified" sound for the rest of his career.

To my knowledge there is only one commercial recording of the work and it is a quite good one by the Ensamble Nuevo Tango. In 1986, Piazzolla gave that group his original manuscript for 500 motivaciones so their performance, other than instrumentation, is quite authentic. Fortunately, they have provided a video of their performance which can be viewed below. The rough, rock edges have been removed and it is well rehearsed but it is still a relentlessly driving work. To me, their version sounds more like Piazzolla than Piazzolla's own Octeto Electronico version.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

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

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