- Cuatro estaciónes porteñas (The Four Seasons), tango cycle - Astor Piazzolla - Leonid Desyatnikov - Nashville Symphony - Giancarlo Guerrero - Tianwa Yang
- Concerto for bandoneon & orchestra - Astor Piazzolla - Daniel Binelli - Nashville Symphony - Giancarlo Guerrero
- Sinfonía Buenos Aires, for orchestra ("Tres Movimentos Sinfónicos") - Astor Piazzolla - Daniel Binelli - Nashville Symphony - Giancarlo Guerrero
Piazzolla: Sinfonia Buenos Aires; Bandoneón Concerto; La Cuatro Estaciones Porteñasby Giancarlo Guerrero
Most presentations of Astor Piazzolla's music by classical ensembles rely mostly on arrangements, but this release by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra comes up with an unusual program relying mostly on orchestral music by Piazzolla himself, and it hangs together nicely. The first two works on the program come respectively from near the beginning and near the end of… See more details below
Most presentations of Astor Piazzolla's music by classical ensembles rely mostly on arrangements, but this release by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra comes up with an unusual program relying mostly on orchestral music by Piazzolla himself, and it hangs together nicely. The first two works on the program come respectively from near the beginning and near the end of Piazzolla's career, the two periods from which most of his works in the classical concert tradition arose. The little-heard "Sinfonía Buenos Aires, Op. 15," from 1951, has a contemporary idiom reflecting Piazzolla's studies with Alberto Ginastera, but what's most notable is the prominent bandoneón part and the hint of tango flavoring throughout. The slow movement in particular sounds as though it lies partway down an imaginary road connecting French romanticism to tango, and one can almost hear the famous event of a few years later when Nadia Boulanger heard Piazzolla play a scrap of tango and told him it was the music that was most truly his. The "Concerto for bandoneón, string orchestra, and percussion" of 1979, dubbed "Aconcagua" by a publisher after the name of South America's highest mountain, is a more common item but still deserves wider exposure; more than any other Piazzolla work it explores the relationship between the tango and other African-derived rhythms in its colorful percussion part. The work is given a thoroughly idiomatic performance by Argentine bandoneón player Daniel Binelli. The sole arranged work is the set of "Cuatro estaciónes porteñas" (The Buenos Aires Four Seasons) in the rather whimsical version for violin and string orchestra by Leonid Desyatnikov. This arrangement, which incorporates quotations from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" concertos, sort of breaks the mood, but it's hard to resist the ebullient performance by young Chinese violinist Tianwa Yang, whose comfort level with Western-hemispheric idioms is impressive. Taken as a whole the program is both fresh and fun, and it speaks well for young Venezuelan-American conductor Giancarlo Guerrero and his efforts to put classical music back on the map of Music City, U.S.A. The sound, recorded at the orchestra's Schermerhorn Symphony Center, is solid.
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Performance CreditsGiancarlo Guerrero Primary Artist
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The Nashville Symphony Orchestra really showed their stuff in Latin American repertoire with their highly-regarded Naxos recording of the complete Bachianas Brasileiras of Villa-Lobos in 2000 (conducted by the late Kenneth Schermerhorn). This new Naxos disc brings this strong tradition to the most important orchestral works of Astor Piazzolla, under the direction of Nashville's dynamic Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero. The Sinfonia Buenos Aires was written under the influence of Piazzolla's teacher Alberto Ginastera. Though this rather episodic work doesn't share Ginastera's formal mastery, it's a sprawling, colourful symphonic work (or rather, three symphonic movements). The Concerto for Bandoneon is, I think, more successful. It may, in fact, be Piazzolla's best orchestral work, partly because the solo instrument is scored for strings and percussion only. The final work on the disc is Las Cuatro Estaciones Portenas (Four Seasons of Buenos Aires), in a version for violin and orchestra made by Leonid Desyatnikov after Piazzolla's death. Though I'm not a complete musical purist - I love Charlie Parker's sessions with strings, for example - I'm not a fan of this particular pastiche. Piazzolla's nuevo tango style is itself a melding of traditional tango, Baroque, and jazz styles, so it's natural to experiment with new orchestrations. But I much prefer this music in a bandoneon-led small group. That said this version is very well played indeed, with Tianwa Yang providing some hair-raising turns on her violin. Thomas May's thoughtful liner notes include a wealth of pertinent information about Piazzolla's life and music. This is just one of the areas in which Naxos excels. The label has raised the art and business of classical music to a very high level, especially considering the state of today's musical commerce.