Astor Piazzolla

The Essential Tangos of Astor Piazzolla

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Twelve pieces performed between 1973 to 1989 are collected on this 12-track, hour-long anthology, most of them dating from the 1980s. This was the final period of Astor Piazzolla's life, but also the one which found him gaining his highest level of international recognition. So although it by no means samples the entire breadth of his work, it's a reasonable introduction, particularly as the later vintage of the material means that it was very well-recorded. This is tango that's more for reflection than for dancing, but not at the expense of heart, colored with various shades of melancholy dignity -- so melancholy that it almost approaches (but doesn't quite cross over into) the morose. It's also composed and performed with an almost classical sense of structure, not adhering to the more predictable melodies and tempos of more conventional tango. It's also pretty consistent in its slightly world-weary dignity -- maybe too much so, if you're in a cheerier mood. The final song, "Vuelvo Al Sur," has vocals by Roberto Goyeneche, though otherwise it's entirely instrumental. Though Piazzolla's bandoneon virtuosity figures strongly throughout, the arrangements do vary, sometimes putting emphasis on violin and piano as well.

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