Montag, 9. November 2020

Tango de Minas: Non Típicas

 

The quintet Tango de Minas presents a wonderful album with a quite different sound. Indeed, non-typically, besides piano (Claudia Glocksin) and vocals (Ursula Cuesta), we hear a cello (Johanna Stein), a saxophone (Miriam Neuhaus) and drums (Gaby Jüttner). The drums support the arrangements by Claudia Glocksin very differentiated; saxophone and cello accentuate the melodic lines of the songs with their specific ‘unexpected’ sound. The song selection is tasteful: often-heard old evergreens (i.e., El Choclo, Los Mareados) are next to wonderful pearls from Astor Piazzolla (i.e. Oda para un Hippie, Chiquilín de Vachín), flavored with a strange ‘spice’, the wonderful song Satumaa by Finish composer Unto Mononen. Singer Ursula Cuesta interprets these songs with expressive dynamic. We believe her that passion and madness, grief and pain are close together and often go hand in hand. The arrangements underline this empathically. Maybe their different (female) perspective on the male-dominated tango requires a new sound, too. The ensembles cites the ‘idiosyncratic’ singer Tita Merello they want to pay tribute to. One should listen to “Se dice de mi” (written by Canaro and Pelay) which is interpreted similarly ‘exaggerated’. Perhaps it is meant emancipatory, perhaps it is only a reversed cliché. Maybe the same songs have different sites and it is worth to notice them all: Love is a complicated thing. Anyway, this ensemble has an exciting non-typical ‘classical’ sound, and musically explores the range of emotions found in the different tango compositions. Very touching – and danceable!

Artist´s website: https://tangodeminas.com/

Mittwoch, 1. Januar 2020

Sexteo Cristal: Loca de amor


One year later, the Sexteto Cristal is out with their second album, Loca de amor, again with Guillermo Rozenthuler as a pleasantly restrained guest singer. Their approach is similar: Attract the audience with beautiful nostalgic tango music which reminds us that the ‘Golden Age’ of tango is gone, but that we long with our hearts back to a time that was never ours.
Maja Hunziker and Rupert Dintinger (violins), Christian Gerber and Michael Dolak (bandoneons), Anna-Maria Huhn (double bass) and Fernando Bruguera (piano) convince with 14 passionate and dynamic interpretations of songs which are not the ever-same evergreens; nevertheless, they are very pleasant,have fine melodies and a clear beat which is easy to follow. Their four valses are mostly simple but effective, and their interpretation of three milongas and seven tangos is lively and suited to please contemporary listeners´ expectations. Their arrangements refer to the primary tango orchestras, and often Rupert Dintinger has transcribed the melodic phrases directly from original recordings to adapt them for the sextet. As an active dancer by himself, the violinist underlines that danceability 
is a very important criterion.
The milonga “La vida es una milonga” (by Fernando Montoni & Rodolfo Sciammarella) could easily be compared with the version of the Orquesta tipica Pedro Laurenz with their singer Martín Podestá. The 1941 version is a bit faster and more ‘rolling’, and Martín Podestá difficult to compare with Guillermo Rozenthuler anyway; nevertheless, the 2019 version has its own beauty. Compared to Lucio Demare´s version of “No te apures Carablanca” (by Roberto Harza & Carlos Bahr) Sexteto Cristal´s version is more relaxed and maybe a bit more passionate in their melodic arches; however, this is difficult to judge and probably a matter of taste. Here I like more the warm and sensitive interpretation of Guillermo Rozenthuler rather than that of Juan Carlos Miranda. Some of these direct comparisons make it clear that the Sexteto Cristal is doing quite a good job to catch the ‘magic’ of the old tango orchestras. In fact, that´s what makes the Sexteto Cristal special and worth it.

Artist´s website: www.tangocristal.net

Dienstag, 31. Dezember 2019

Carel Kraayenhof: 30! Passionate Tango Years


For 30 years, the Dutch bandoneonist and composer Carel Kraayenhof (*1958) has been on the road with his musicians all over the world. - Wow. He sees himself as the "heritage of musical richness" of Astor Piazzolla and Osvaldo Pugliese, with whom he has already collaborated.
Now Kraayenhof has recorded 20 tracks, four written by Astor Piazzolla, one song each by Oscaldo Pugliese, Pedro Laurenz and Nestor Marconi; 10 are new compositions by Kraayenhof himself, one by his pianist Juan Pablo Dobal, one by the Korean bandoneonist Sangji Koh (to which he in turn dedicates one of his pieces) and one by Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting ("Field of Gold"). The sound spectrum ranges from solo bandoneon to rich ensemble with piano, bandoneon, three strings and double bass. You don't have to lose many words about the musical quality and curiosity of the protagonist and his ensemble, as they are outstanding.
For this album, too, the ensemble succeeds in presenting the compositions with dynamic richness, melodic sensitivity and rhythmic finesse and drawing the listener into the diverse ‘sound paintings’. The compositions are airily arranged (mostly by him) and convince with clear transparency. Rhythmically, the Milonga-Candombe "Torre de luz" and the Vals criollo "Valsecito jugeton" stand out. Waltz and Milonga can be easily trivialized melodically and rhythmically – however, Kraayenhof avoids this with a light hand. His zamba "If only you where here" is really beautifully and calls for more. Also Piazzolla's "Chiquilén de Bachin" is interpreted so heartbreakingly that one wants to buy all the roses at once for the street child.
With this 63 minutes album, both the dancers and the listeners-only fraction will get their money's worth. We look forward to another 30 years with tango at a musically high level and emotional depth.
Artist´s website: www.carelkraayenhof.com

This review was published first in the German language journal TANGODANZA (2019)