Classical CD Reviews

‘Pasión Poética – Buenos Aires hora cero’ = Music of ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (arr. Marcelo Nisinman) and others – Saxismtango (TrackList follows) – Solo Musica

Probably what an Argentine coffee house sounds like.

Published on January 28, 2013

‘Pasión Poética – Buenos Aires hora cero’ = Music of ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (arr. Marcelo Nisinman) and others – Saxismtango (TrackList follows) – Solo Musica

‘Pasión Poética – Buenos Aires hora cero’ = Music of ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (arr. Marcelo Nisinman) and others – Saxismtango (TrackList follows) – Solo Musica SM174 (Distr. by Naxos), 51:33 ****:

I have always wanted to see Buenos Aires. For one thing, the music of the tango is infectious. For me, it certainly does not make up more than a very rare portion of what I listen to but Piazzolla, in particular, is very fun and seductive to listen to.

Saxismtango is a very fine ensemble comprised of vocalist, piano, bass, bandeón and saxophones, with bandeón player Marcelo Nisinman also serving as the group’s music director and arranger. Most of the selections heard here are by the iconoclastic master Astor Piazzolla who, in his attempt to modernize and redefine traditional tango music, is now thought of as the idiomatic tango composer!  There are selections by other Argentine songwriters; Enrique Discépolo, Virgilio Expósito, Annibal Troilo, Homero Manzi, Eladia Blazquez and Nisinman, himself. These other song writers are not delineated in the booklet notes but the tone of the total collection is very populist; very “authentic.”  These are songs, not “compositions.”

The addition of saxophones to a tango ensemble is a bit unusual and I credit Marcelo Nisinman for making his arrangements sound unique but still natural in including them. This set of traditional and re-interpreted tangos really does sound and feel like being in Argentina (of course).  All performances are quite good. Marcelo Nisinman has a fascinating background in traditional music as well as in classical composition. His other ensembles have performed with him and violinist Gidon Kremer and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among others. High praise is due vocalist Marcela Arroyo, too. Her throaty, smoky night club mezzo voice is very enjoyable and perfect for this kind of music.

The derivation and intent of each individual song is not provided – nor needed, really – but the most unusual, bizarre selection is explained in the booklet. The “Insects and Humans Tango” by Nisinman is a quirky, more jazz-like work than the others in this collection. The composer explains that he was inspired by noticing that the behaviors of ants are not that different from those of humans. My personal favorites in this set are the Piazzolla pieces. His style is so definable and enjoyable, I think. For example, the sultry tone of Jeanne et Paul or the quirky Balada para un Loco are prime examples.

Not all the arrangements are by Nisinman, personally. There are some good examples by Rolf Bűrli and Angel Garcia Arnés, both musicians in Saxismtango, as well. This may not be up to everyone’s tastes but I found this a very catchy and enjoyable collection. I think even in small doses and as a fairly uncommon choice, tango music – especially as done by Piazzolla – is quite enjoyable. This album makes a very nice place for the novice to begin and for those experienced to add to their collection.

TrackList: (all selections by Piazzolla unless otherwise noted):

1. Yira Yira (Discépolo)
2. Buenes Aires Hora Cero
3. Balada Para un Loco
4. Meditango
5. Maquillaje (Expósito)
6. Insects and Humans Tango (Nisinman)
7. Mi Loco Bandeón
8. Tanguera
9. Romance de Barrio (Troilo y Manzi)
10. Sueño de Barrilete (Blazquez)
11. Jeanne et Paul
12. Soledad

—Daniel Coombs




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