Thursday, June 28, 2012

Paula Cautiva

In its time, Paula Cautiva was an important movie.  In 1963, when it was released it made appearances at film festivals in both London and San Francisco and brought some recognition to its young director, Hector Olivera. It tells the story of some wealthy Americans arriving in Argentina to do a business deal.  They are hosted by the young and beautiful Paula Cautiva on her aging grandfather's ranch. The movie provides opportunities to see both Buenos Aires of the 60's and the pampas sections of Argentina.  The ending is a bit strange but it is not a bad movie. Piazzolla wrote the score for the movie and has a cameo appearance in it which is featured in one of the two videos below.

The IMDb lists 86 titles containing music Piazzolla composed. Eliminating documentaries and shorts, there are still more than fifty full length movies for which Piazzolla was hired to compose scores.  Some produced famous pieces - for exmple, Oblivion, Piazzolla's second most often performed work came from the movie, Enrico IV.  Most, however, contain music which future scholars will eventually extract to build a full picture of Piazzolla's oeuvre but until that day, the music will go largely unheard. There is much music in Paula Cautiva and you can hear it all and see the full movie here. My guess is that our future scholars will find four pieces of music worthy of attention - one of these is already famous, Revirado, one should be famous, the cancion, Paula Cautiva.  Two others in the hands of imaginative arrangers could become nice performance works for Piazzolla-type quintets.

In the latter two, I include the opening theme of the movie which runs about 1'45" under the opening credits.  You can hear it here.  The second, is just a minute of music which plays under a quick tour of Buenos Aires which you can hear here.  There are other fragments of interesting music including some very un-Piazzolla-like dance numbers. The Film Compilation page indicates that some of the jazz in the film was selected by Piazzolla rather than composed by Piazzolla but apparently all the rest is his.

The first featured video below captures Piazzolla playing Revirado in a nightclub. You can hear other members of his quintet but they are not visible.  I believe that Revirado was composed for the film but it was also included in one of the Quintet's early albums, Tango para una ciudad, and was captured in a 1963 television broadcast of the full quintet - featured in an early edition of this blog. Interestingly, Piazzolla resurrected the piece twenty years later and included it in live performance recordings at Vienna and Lugano and Milan.

The second featured video below covers a lovely cancion, Paula Cautiva, sung by the star of the film,  Susana Freyre. While the lyricist is not identified in the film, a little work in the SADAIC database suggests that the lyricist was the poet (and Piazzolla friend) Albino Alberto Gómez. To my knowledge, this piece has never been recorded or performed outside of this film.  That should change - this piece deserves exposure to a broader public.

If Revirado does not appear below, click here.  If Paula Cautiva does not appear below, click here.

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

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