Quatuor Caliente / Débora Russ

Astor Piazzolla

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Mixing instrumentals with vocal numbers, this disc of music by Astor Piazzolla is convincing evidence that the master of the nuevo tango could do more than write new tangos. Performed by Argentine chanteuse Débora Russ and the Quatuor Caliente before a live audience in Le Triton in Les Lilas in 2006, this disc is powerful proof that Piazzolla could also compose haunting pop songs when the mood took him. True, they are saturated with the same melancholy longing and swaying rhythm as his better known tangos. But in songs like "Los Párajos Perdidos" and "Balada para mi muerte," Piazzolla's muse takes wing in Russ' sultry, sensuous, and highly dramatic interpretations. The Quatuor Caliente does exactly the same with its throbbing accompaniments for Russ and its searing numbers without Russ. For example, the performance of "Buenos Aires Hora Cero," while perhaps lacking the deep authenticity of Piazzolla's own recordings, still conveys his music's blood-soaked mystery. The sound of the performers is sharp and vivid, while the sound of the audience is equally vivid, although thankfully only after each number.

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