Erwin Schrott

Rojotango

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AllMusic Review by

Uruguyan bass-baritone Erwin Schrott's earliest musical memories were of vocal tangos: "a huge part of the soundtrack to my entire life." He has made his international reputation in opera, particularly as Mozart's rogues and heroes, but for his first solo album for Sony, he returns to his musical roots with a collection of tangos by a variety of South American composers: Astor Piazzolla and Pablo Ziegler from Argentina, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Egberto Gismonti, Caetano Veloso, and Dori Caymmi from Brazil, and Violeta Parra from Chile. The combination of Schrott's effortless mastery of the idiom, the inherent appeal of his voice, his technical assurance, and his absolute commitment to these passionate songs make this a very smart choice for a solo album. He has the technique to spin out the expansive lyrical lines that make the more romantic tangos like Ziegler's Rojotango and Gismonti's Agua y vino so transporting, but he can also unleash an astonishing range of vocal colors, sometime darkening and thickening his voice to an almost guttural howl. He has the stereotypically Latin passion and heroic fire to make the more dramatic tangos, such as Piazzolla's Los párajos perdidos, practically leap out and grab the listener by the throat.

Ziegler, the music director for the album, also plays piano and is responsible for the exceptionally vibrant and inventive arrangements for a richly varied ensemble of orchestral and traditional instruments and backup vocals. His treatments of Piazzolla's Rinascerò and Veloso's Desde que o samba é samba are particularly dazzling. The album will be a must-have for fans of the tango and of Schrott's singing, but the intensity and fire of the music make this an album that should appeal to any listeners who can be swept up in sizzling vocal and instrumental performances. Sony's sound is warmly intimate with a robustly lively and present ambience.

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