Devich Trio

Piazzolla, Bragato: Tango Romances

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By their own admission, the members of the Devich Piano Trio are a classically trained bunch, and their performances typically focus on the standard piano trio repertoire. A CD devoted almost entirely to the works of Astor Piazzolla is therefore quite a departure. As Piazzolla's music continues to gain in popularity, more and more ensembles -- from piano trios to symphony orchestras to string quartets -- are branching out in an attempt to include Piazzolla's music into their repertoire. In the case of the Devich Trio, this attempt is met with mixed success. The group obviously has a very strong technique: good intonation, solid command of instruments, and an intuitive sense of ensemble playing. Stylistically, though, the tango seems at times to be a struggle. The liner notes discuss their coaching by tango great Alexandre Mota Kanji. Despite this instruction, the distinctive and intrinsically necessary flair and panache for a truly sexy tango performance fades in and out. There are moments, particularly in the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, when the Devich Trio really delivers on the rhythmic dynamism and sultry interplay, but they aren't quite capable of holding on to these characteristics throughout their entire performance. Too often, they slip back to their classical roots and rhythms become too straight, shifts too clean, and dynamics too guarded. The group is dealt a further blow by the unbalanced overall sound quality of the recording and it unduly favors the left hand of the piano over the rest of the ensemble. Despite being a noble attempt by the Devich Trio to create an album outside its typical safety zone, this album simply doesn't succeed as an example of great tango playing.

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