Piazzolla: El Tango

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Piazzolla
LABELS: Nonesuch
WORKS: El Tango
PERFORMER: Astor Quartet; guest artists
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79462-2
The eminent violinist Gidon Kremer includes only one or two musicians who worked with Piazzolla himself on this El Tango album; the singer Milva, for example, appears just twice. While her approach brings the authentic tang to the tango, the performances of Kremer and his Astor Quartet have little of the rhythmic flexibility and freedom of expression that came naturally to the great man’s own musicians. But Giya Kancheli’s ‘Instead of a Tango’ movingly freezes tango gestures in a harsh Georgian landscape.


The jazz experience of vibraphone player Gary Burton equips him much better for instinctive interpretation of the tango; besides, both he and several other musicians on Astor Piazzolla Reunion – including the splendid violinist Fernando Suarez-Paz – worked with Piazzolla, who himself makes an appearance on the final track. The results are delightful, sharpening and inflecting the impact of both the music’s more acerbic and wilder moments with the rhythmic flair of players who really understand where this music has come from as well as where it is going. These two discs of tangos do rather suggest the limitations of both the form itself and of Piazzolla’s renowned ‘experimental’ approach to it. Keith Potter