DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Astor Piazzolla – The Next Tango (1986)

Piazzolla relates his life and work on the New Tango and performs in two of his concertos with orchestra

Published on August 28, 2007

Astor Piazzolla – The Next Tango (1986)
Astor Piazzolla – The Next Tango (1986)

“In Conversation and In Concert”
Program: Double Concerto for Guitar, Bandoneon and Strings; Concerto for Bandoneon, Strings & Percussion; Adios Nonino
Performers: Astor Piazzolla, bandoneon, and his Quintet; Alvaro Pierri, guitar; Cologne Radio Orchestra/Pinchas Steinberg
Studio: Unitel/DGG00440 073 4319
Video: 4:3 color
Audio: Spanish DTS 5.1, PCM Stereo
Subtitles: English, German, French, Chinese
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: *****

This film directed by Jose Mentes-Baquer in 1986 should not be confused with the also fine film Portrait of Piazzolla which we reviewed previously.  That one also combines an uninterrupted concert with a documentary, only in that case the documentary was wide-ranging – with comments from his children and various other figures in music and illustrative materials.  This time it’s simply a talking-head conversation by Piazzolla describing highlights of his life and career, interspersed with a few short musical excerpts. It’s a privilege to hear this information directly from the artist. There is one cut to a photo of Piazzolla and his teacher in Paris, Nadia Boulanger; of course it would be difficult to omit that important influence on his career. (Piazzolla died in 1992; I was fortunate to hear him perform a year before his death.)

The two major works presented in concert are examples of Piazzolla’s incorporating his New Tango approach with symphony orchestra writing in a concerto form. Both are lovely and well-filmed. The concluding Adios Nonino – dedicated to the composer’s father – has to be one of his most affecting pieces.  Hearing just one short selection performed by Piazzolla’s normal quintet without the symphony orchestra would have been a thoughtful extra that was missed. The transfer is of high visual quality. My player failed to switch to the DTS 5.1 option when I selected it in the menu and for the first part of this DVD I was listening only in stereo. What an enhancement when I finally forced it to switch to DTS surround!  The excitement and involvement in the music increased a hundred fold.  Evidently the originally 1986 film was done in surround, because the robust multichannel reproduction sounds nothing like artificially-derived surround from original two-channel sources.

 - John Sunier




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