The pairing of Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos with the four Astor Piazzolla tangos collectively titled Las cuatro estaciones porteñas (The Buenos Aires Four Seasons) is natural enough, and several discs have appended the Piazzolla works in order to punch up the ubiquitous Four Seasons. It doesn't matter, really, that Piazzolla didn't actually write his tangos as a set -- he tended to compose thematically related groups of pieces in occasional series, and, even if these are not as vivid as Vivaldi's concertos, they do evoke seasonal moods. His Verano porteño (Buenos Aires Summer) is languid and lyrical, and Invierno porteño (the "winter" tango), one of his most lovely works, has a static feel (for a tango, at least), with little interludes of activity. These are good pieces for the Piazzolla newbie to hear in order to get attuned to the variety of moods in his music. Unfortunately, this isn't the right recording (the Eight Seasons disc by violinist Gidon Kremer comes closer, although the arrangement here, by Argentine cellist José Bragato, is preferable). The Salzburg Chamber Soloists, despite the South American origins of director Lavard Skou-Larsen, don't deliver compelling tango rhythms. On the Vivaldi side of the ledger, the group tries to match the fast, intense mode of performing Vivaldi that seems to be the fashion, but Skou-Larsen is given to tempo fluctuations at odd times. The programmatic effects of the Four Seasons are successful because of, not in spite of, their confinement within the terraced forms of the Baroque concerto. The live recording is done with admirably immediate sound, but the hesitant audience applause at the ends of the various works gives the game away. Also unrecommending the disc for the Piazzolla newcomer are the errors in the liner notes: Las cuatro estaciones porteñas is not a Baroque suite; the tango is not an Argentine folkloric form (its origins are Afro-Latin); and Piazzolla was not a critic of Argentina's military dictatorship.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|The Four Seasons (Il quattro stagione), concertos (4) for violin, strings & continuo ("Il cimento" Nos. 1-4) , Op. 8/1 - 4|
|Cuatro estaciónes porteñas (The Four Seasons), tango cycle|