Svetozar Ivanov

Naked Tango

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Why it should have taken a Bulgarian-Floridian pianist to devise a really innovative tango-based program is something of a mystery (although Eastern Europe took to the tango as enthusiastically as did the rest of the world back in the day). Be that as it may, this little disc by Svetozar Ivanov, a professor at the University of South Florida, is personal, musically absorbing, and suggestive of new ways of programming the tangos of Piazzolla. He does not appear on the disc, although his Brazilian counterpart Ernesto Nazareth is represented. Ivanov pulls off the difficult trick of assembling a program with a dual focus -- the "naked tango" (or, as the beautiful Borges quote in the booklet has it, the "infinite tango," also suggested by the related Satie and Cage works that frame the program) serves as a foil for a memorial to the late Florida-based composer Robert Helps. His works are not tangos, but they are visionary, somewhat Ivesian pieces that strive to evoke the infinite. Ivanov adds another counterweight -- works from earlier in the European tradition, by Rameau and British Renaissance composer William Tisdall, that were based on popular dance rhythms. The overall result is genuinely life-affirming, placing a memorial (and a memorial within a memorial, for one of Helps' own works, Recollections, itself has a movement entitled "In Memoriam") within a continuum of dance rhythms communicating an infinite but secular life force greater than any individual life. Superbly original and quite moving, this disc is deserving of wider exposure than it may gain from its release on Bulgaria's Gega label.

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