Tango & Dances
The Argentine tango arrived in Europe and North America in the early years of the last century and rapidly branched out in unexpected directions. José Serebrier follows various limbs and stems on ‘Tango in Blue’, and it’s remarkable where some of these lead. The conductor’s arrangement of Erik Satie’s sly, slightly neurotic and oh-so-French Le tango is deft and delicate. Jacob Gade’s Jealousy, on the other hand, takes us to the swashbuckling world of silent film. The tango from Morton Gould’s Stringmusic is angular, Americanised and utterly lacking in sensuality, though the selection from his American Symphonette No 4 carries a real erotic charge.
Weill is represented with a pair of dark-hued tangos sung with spirit and conviction by Carole Farley. Not all of the interpretations are so authoritatively performed, however. Stravinsky’s pocket Tango and Piazzolla’s Tangazo sound soft-edged, whereas Barber’s Hesitation-Tango and Rodríguez’s (in)famous La cumparsita are overblown. Still, this is an engaging programme overall.
Fionnuala Hunt’s ‘Tangos and Dances’ is similarly varied yet is less compelling. In the booklet-note, Hunt quotes Angela Rippon’s description of the tango as ‘the vertical expression of a horizontal desire’. That’s more or less how these dances are presented here: as swooning, romantic mood music. This works fine for Piazzolla’s lyrical Oblivion, perhaps, but Libertango needs a whole lot more urgency and punch. And although it’s heartening that Pablo Ziegler’s music is getting increased exposure, Desde otros tiempos also sounds a bit tame here. To be fair, Hunt plays with reasonable gutsiness most of the time. It’s the RTÉ Concert Orchestra that lacks spine. For a lighter take on the tango, try ‘Tango goes Symphony’ on Naxos; ‘Tango goes Pops’ might be a more accurate title but at least the music’s gritty origins aren’t entirely forgotten.