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Cat. No. CHAN 10419 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10419 - Piazzolla: Orchestral Works, Volume 2
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Available From: 01 May 2007
The Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla is best remembered for his tangos, which in their orchestral form combine the raw energy of the dance with the brilliance of a master orchestrator. This CD series highlights the orchestral side of his oeuvre, which not only brought tango onto the international scene, but confirmed Piazzolla as of one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century in the Americas.

His approach was daring and intellectually brilliant, combining the traits of the traditional tango with a fresh, original, and much more complex musical thinking, thus creating a completely new language for the music of Buenos Aires. Like the first volume devoted to the symphonic music of Piazzolla, this second features several largely unfamiliar works, including three first recordings, and all four works confirm his innovative, colourful and distinctive style, drawing on infectious dance rhythms and traditional classical techniques.

Sinfonía Buenos Aires occupies without doubt an important place within the Argentine symphonic literature, for it is in this work that Piazzolla’s symphonic development of tango reached its high point. Written in 1951, it is the culmination of ten years of hard work exploring the possibilities of expanding the tango to larger formats, and the influence of Ginastera is clear in this most ‘serious’ of his classical compositions. Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, a tango homage to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, was written on his return from Paris, where he had been encouraged to develop his tango roots. This is tuneful, almost film score-like composition has a dark intensity as well as lyricism. The orchestral arrangement here receives its premiere recording.

Piazzolla was a virtuoso on the bandoneón, a relative of the accordion with a melancholic tone ideally suited to the mood of the tango. The Concerto for Bandoneón is seen by many as the creative summit of Piazzolla’s compositional achievements. The three movements summarise several aspects of Piazzolla’s mature style, which was steeped in the nationalist idiom, notably the use of exciting rhythmic patterns, but would frequently relax to allow a more reflective element to emerge. To permit the solo bandoneón the maximum opportunity for effective projection, Piazzolla eliminated all wind and brass instruments from the work’s orchestration.

All of these ambitious works are idiomatically and enthusiastically played by the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen under Gabriel Castagna, who is particularly well known for his interpretations of South American music.

Review for previous release:
Gabriel Castagna has already proved himself something of a Piazzolla specialist… all the performances sound affectionate and thoroughly idiomatic, and overall it’s an undeniably enjoyable disc…

BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 10049

Gabriel Castagna leads the Wüttembergische Philharmonic Reutlingen in well-honed, lithely muscular performances that are also intensely idiomatic; and they gain from a recorded sound which has an uncommon sense of spatial depth. The booklet notes are generous and scholarly. In sum: for the Sinfonia and (especially) the Concerto, this is a disc that no one interested in twentieth-century music would want to be without.
International Record Review

The first volume of Castagna’s survey of Piazolla’s orchestral music offered a rare and valuable account of the tango master’s 1953 Sinfonietta… on this new disc, Castagna gives us the first recording of the Sinfonia Buenos Aires. Composed in 1951, it is far more ambitious in scope than the Sinfonietta – and more daring as well… Castagna inspires some ferocious playing from his German orchestra, particularly in the frenetic and feral finale.

The bandonenist Juan José Masolini gravitates towards the pathos of city-life loneliness, not the twee rustic Morris-dance, in his instrument’s evocative wheeze. Wood scrapes and thunderous timps drive the insistent Latin rhythms of Piazolla’s bandoneon concerto, while the strings mourn and flagellate themselves in glissandi. Gabriel Castagna, meanwhile, conducts the German Württembugisches Orchester with a real feel for the tango, especially in the loud, thrilling last movement of the Sinfonia Buenos Aires.
The Times (Knowledge)


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