The tango and the milonga (its predecessor at the top of the popularity stakes in Argentina) were rarely absent from Piazzolla’s subconscious‚ even when the music moves at an undanceably slow pace or when it is cast in more ‘Classical’ form‚ as in the Double Concerto. His objective was to establish the tango as a viable artform in its own right and to fuse it with jazz and more formal musical genres. In essence the tango is not the natural province of a large orchestra‚ but Piazzolla came to accept and embrace it in that form as a natural extension of his ‘crusade’. In none of the items in this recording does one feel the music to be bloated‚ and the greater variety of instrumental sound keeps one’s attention in those few places where brevity might have served the music better.
Many of Piazzolla’s works bear specific reference to Buenos Aires‚ such as the Movimientos tanguísticos poerteños. But the most movingly memorable are arguably those which were emotionally personal to him: Adiós Nonino was his immediate reaction to the death of his father – ‘Perhaps I was surrounded by angels‚’ he said of it. The eponymous Angel of the milonga signifies inspiration‚ the natural gift of artists. Oblivion was written at a time when Piazzolla was suffering from severe depression.
Only the bandoneon and guitar soloists have any direct connection with this music but one could not hope for more sympathetic and finely recorded performances than these. Piazzolla’s musical ‘voice’ remains one of the most distinctive and captivating in all South American art music and it is well served in this magnificent recording.