Tango is assumed to be Argentina´s legitimate heritage. In fact, tango is inscribed on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” since 2009, and “considered one of the main manifestations of identity for the inhabitants of the Río de la Plata region”. Yet, to be true, tango has different parents and a multitude of ancestors. The Xena Tango project reminds us that the tango has roots in Italy, too, and that tango was also shaped by the emigrants from Genova who came to Buenos Aires in the late 19th century.
The parents of this ambitious project, consisting of an album with 12 songs (plus two bonus tracks) and a 254 pages book with background material (in Italian language), are Roberta Alloisio (Italian singer and actress), Luis Enríquez Bacalov (Argentine pianist and Oscar decorated composer), and Walter Ríos (Argentine bandoneonista and composer).
As composers of these 12 songs which follow the trail of the immigrants from Genova and Buenos Aires, we find the Argentine tango icon and singer Carlos Gardel (1890-1935), Argentine violinist Juan de Dios Filiberto (1885-1964), Italian composer Umberto Bindi (1932-2002), and several contemporary musicians from Genova who contributed songs for this project, i.e., songwriter and playwright Gian Piero Alloisio (brother of the project´s singer), rock singer Vittorio De Scalzi, singer Carlo Marrale, singer Ivano Fossati, Corsician singer Stéphane Casalta, and Roberta Alloisio herself - and, to finally reach the literal harbor of Buenos Aires, the Argentine singer Pablo Banchero, the "official singer of the Republica de la Boca" (the quarter in Buenos Aires where the Italian emigrants settled at the end of the 19th century). Following the “Street of Tango from Genova to Buenos Aires” we consequently hear these songs in Spanish language and Genoese dialect, respectively (the lyrics are kindly printed in up to four languages, i.e., Spanish, Genoese, Italian and English).
Most of these songs were recorded on both sides of the Atlantic, in Rome (arranged for a full ensemble of strings, brass section, bandoneon, piano, guitar and drums, and conducted by Luis Barcalov) and in Buenos Aires (arranged for piano, bandoneon, guitar, doublebass, drums, and conducted by Walter Ríos).
What catches our ears first is the warm and expressive voice of Roberta Alloisio, the pleasant arrangements of her collaborators, and the sensitive interpretations of enrolled musicians (inclusively guest singer Pablo Banchero in the song “Genova”).
This album convinces with several highlights, i.e. Carlos Gardel´s “El Dìa Que Me Quieras”, “Milonga Do Magon” written by Pablo Banchero & Roberta Alloisio, Stéphane Casalta´s hymnic ”L'angelo Custode”, Vittorio De Scalzi´s touching “Barbon” (sung with proud sadness and restricted pathos), and the heart breaking “Mi No Veuggio Ëse Mi” written by Gian Piero Alloisio: “Me, I don´t want to be myself. I want to be a handkerchief in the hand of a girl getting married in San Lorenzo tomorrow morning. I´ll be the dress, the bride, the incense. I don´t want to be a woman, I want to be a voice that sings, an orchestra that plays.”
When we here these songs, we become aware that we share the same dreams, the same hope, the same sadness, the same life – maybe at different places and different times - yet, it is the same heart which beats on both sides of the Atlantic.
when you are filed up with too much exertive modern tango music with (seemingly) arbitrary melodic and harmonic
progressions, and unexpected change of motifs, and you feel irritated and uneasy - than it might be a
good idea to turn to some simple classical tangos which are merely beautiful.
Nothing more - and nothing less.
Paula Castignola´s album “Un cielo de serenata”
is such a candidate: A typical tango orchestra is simply doing a good job to
accompany a singer with a warm and appealing voice singing classical tangos and some contemporary
compositions, ranging from Francisco Canaro (1888-1964), Carlos Gardel(1890-1935), Anibal Troilo (1914-1975), Héctor Stamponi (1916-1997), AstorPiazzolla (1921-1992) to Eladia Blázquez (1931-2005) and Paula & Gustavo
As musicians we hear Cristian Zárate on piano, Juan Pablo Navarro
on double and electric bass, Carlos Corrales on bandoneon, Pablo Agri and Raúl
di Renzo on violins, Benjamín Bru on
viola, Diego Sánchez on violoncello, and in some songs Ricardo Lew on electric
guitar and Hernan Corrales on drums.
Blázquez´s vals “Un cielo de serenata” is the opener, other classical tangos
follow and entrap the listener and the dancers with a pleasant atmosphere. Carlos
Corrales´ orchestral arrangements and Paula Castignola´s voice are dynamic and
ifind their way to the listeners heart. Let´s call it music which suits.
terra”, written by the Italian composer Nino Rota (1911-1979) for the movie “The
Godfather”, is a highlight of the album: a beautiful melody, a dynamic
arrangement, and a sensitive
interpretation - warm-heartedly and touching. Also “Navidad
Porteña” deserves attention because it was co-written by Paula
Castignola and her father Gustavo, who transmitted his passion for tango music
(and pasta) to his daughter. “Italian blood and passion for tango”, as the
Maffia´s “Cornetin” (from 1942) reveals a more light-footed site of Paula Castignola: accompanied by (funky) electric guitar, e-bass, drums, piano and bandoneon (and
guest singer Emiliano Castignola), this milonga spreads high spirits. Also Alfredo
Malerba´s salsa-milonga “Ropa Blanca” (from 1943), a further highlight of the
album, surprises the dancers with a great grooving band (with slapping e-bass,
drums, funky guitar licks, and jazzy piano lines): Difficult to resist.
All in all:
If you prefer a good balance of lyrical and dynamic tangos which provide a pleasant
and a bit nostalgic atmosphere, you may be perfect on Paula Castignoli´s side.