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TANGORAMA

An Anthology of 20th Century Tango • 1


  • Mirian Conti, piano

This panoramic survey of Argentine tangos shows the genre in all its rich variety of moods and virtuosity. It salutes Ángel Villoldo, the father of tango, whose El choclo (‘The Corncob’) is one of the most famous tangos of all time, and charts the music’s evolution towards the romanticism and lush harmonies of Augustín Bardi. Improvisatory styles, syncopation and jazz harmonies were introduced by such great composers as José Pascual and Orlando Goñi, whilst Enrique Francini developed his personal qualities of dissonance and rhythmic flair into the 1960s. This survey is the first in a series that will document around one hundred rare and classic tangos, all performed by the Argentine pianist Mirian Conti.

Tracklist

Delfino, Enrique
1
Re Fa Si (version for piano) (1917) (00:02:18)
Maglio, Juan Pacho
2
Armenonville (version for piano) (1908) (00:02:42)
Villoldo, Ángel Gregorio
3
El Porteñito (version for piano) (1903) (00:01:23)
4
El Choclo (version for piano) (1903) (00:01:48)
Arolas, Eduardo
5
Papas Calientes (version for piano) (1910s) (00:01:53)
Matos Rodríguez, Gerardo
6
La Cumparsita (version for piano) (1916) (00:02:16)
De Caro, Francisco
7
Flores Negras (version for piano) (1927) (00:02:32)
Villoldo, Ángel Gregorio
8
El Torito (version for piano) (1910) (00:01:27)
Bardi, Agustín
9
Nunca Tuvo Novio (version for piano) (1928) (00:01:53)
Cobián, Juan Carlos
10
La Casita de Mis Viejos (version for piano) (1932) (00:03:09)
Cuccaro, Nicolás Luis
11
Silueta Porteña (version for piano) (1936) (00:01:48)
Cuccaro, Juan Ventura
11
Silueta Porteña (version for piano) (1936) (00:01:48)
Pascual, José
12
Arrabal (version for piano) (1934) (00:03:38)
Piana, Sebastián
13
Tinta Roja (version for piano) (1941) (00:01:49)
Laurenz, Pedro
14
Milonga de Mis Amores (version for piano) (1937) (00:01:47)
Goñi, Orlando
15
Mi Regalo (version for piano) (1944) (00:01:41)
Federico, Domingo
16
Percal (version for piano) (1943) (00:02:19)
Aieta, Anselmo Alfredo
17
Corralera (version for piano) (1946) (00:01:58)
Gobbi, Alfredo
18
El Andariego (version for piano) (1951) (00:02:36)
Pansera, Roberto
19
Naturaleza Muerta (version for piano) (1955) (00:03:15)
Francini, Enrique
20
Tema Otoñal (version for piano) (1955) (00:02:49)
Plaza, Julián
21
Melancólico (version for piano) (1960) (00:02:46)
Balcarce, Emilio
22
Sideral (version for piano) (1962?) (00:03:00)
Plaza, Julián
23
Nostálgico (version for piano) (1962) (00:02:34)
Pugliese, Osvaldo Pedro
24
A los Artistas Plásticos (version for piano) (1964) (00:03:44)
Mores, Mariano
25
El Firulete (version for piano) (1943) (00:02:45)
Total Time: 00:59:50

The Artist(s)

Mirian Conti Argentine-American concert pianist Mirian Conti’s recording output and international concerts have garnered praise and awards. In recognition of her extraordinary talent, a scholarship honouring Conti was established at The Juilliard School by the Edwin Bachman Estate. In addition, she was selected as one of 100 Outstanding Alumni to celebrate Juilliard’s centennial in 2005–06. She is on the Faculty of The Juilliard School Evening Division in New York City since 2007, presenting new courses on Classical Piano Literature.

The Composer(s)

Anselmo Aieta was self-taught, became a popular figure during the 1910s and 20s, and composed at the piano and bandoneon with equal virtuosity. Belonging to the more traditional line that opposed the new evolutionary styles of Laurenz or Maffia, he performed in the Francisco Canaro orchestra, and much later formed his own groups attracting the best musicians of his time.
Eduardo Arolas Eduardo Arolas nicknamed the ‘tiger of the bandoneon’, composed this charming Papas calientes (‘Hot Potatoes’) around the 1910s. In a short life, he composed hundreds of pieces of excellent quality, with a modern view of tango.
Emilio Balcarce was a violinist, bandoneonist and arranger. His main achievement came in the year 2000 when a young musician, Ignacio Varchausky, proposed to the Secretary of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires to form a tango orchestra that would recreate and teach the spirit and styles of the 1940s to the next generations. So, the Orquesta Escuela de Tango was born and Balcarce was chosen as its director. He was able to transmit his great knowledge of the many styles of the old orchestras by teaching their original arrangements.
Agustín Bardi (1884–1941), Juan Carlos Cobián (1896–1953) and Francisco de Caro (1898–1976) were responsible for the next step in the evolution of tango at the piano. All three tangos, Nunca tuvo novio, La casita de mis viejos and Flores negras have something in common: pure romanticism and luscious harmonies – a new means of expression in tango piano writing.
Juan Carlos Cobián Juan Carlos Cobián along with Agustín Bardi (1884–1941) and Francisco de Caro (1898–1976) were responsible for the next step in the evolution of tango at the piano. All three tangos, Nunca tuvo novio, La casita de mis viejos and Flores negras have something in common: pure romanticism and luscious harmonies – a new means of expression in tango piano writing.
Juan Ventura Cuccaro and his brother Nicolás Luis Cuccaro, known as Hermanos Cuccaro, were the creators of Silueta porteña (1936) – a popular milonga sung by all major singers, and a favourite for dancers.
Nicolás Luis Cuccaro and his brother Juan Ventura Cuccaro, known as Hermanos Cuccaro, were the creators of Silueta porteña (1936) – a popular milonga sung by all major singers, and a favourite for dancers.
Francisco De Caro Agustín Bardi (1884–1941), Juan Carlos Cobián (1896–1953) and Francisco de Caro (1898–1976) were responsible for the next step in the evolution of tango at the piano. All three tangos, Nunca tuvo novio, La casita de mis viejos and Flores negras have something in common: pure romanticism and luscious harmonies – a new means of expression in tango piano writing.
Enrique Delfino Enrique Delfino was considered one the finest pianists of the early decades of the 20th century who pioneered the tango romanza/canción. He was against the conventional milonga rhythms written in scores with the typical habanera accompaniment. He said: ‘El tango no se toca así, hay que escribirlo como suena’ (‘The tango cannot be played like that, it must be written as it sounds’).
Domingo Federico studied music with his father who bought him his first bandoneon – he also played piano and violin. He attended the school of medicine which he gave up in order to concentrate on music. After many years performing, touring and recording, he settled in the city of Rosario and created a youth orchestra.
Enrique Mario Francini was a bandleader, a prolific composer of tangos, and a violinist. Born in San Fernando in Buenos Aires province he became a close friend of Héctor Stamponi with whom he collaborated on various compositions. They both became well-known as performers in many orchestras and ensembles on Argentinian radio. Francini played first violin in the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra from 1958 until his death 20 years later.
Alfredo Gobbi Alfredo Gobbi was referred to as ‘the romantic violin of tango’. He was born in Paris but his parents returned to Argentina before he was one year old – by the age of six he was studying piano but quickly changed to the violin. His slow, accented style, and an attractive use of rubato, syncopation and subtle dynamics, are his hallmarks, as can be heard in his tango El andariego (‘The Wanderer’).
The short life of Orlando Goñi did not allow him to record much, but he was described as a pianist of clean phrasing (minimal use of the pedals) with soft sounds, who was imaginative and influenced by jazz music, as demonstrated by his use of syncopation. He studied with Argentina’s most renowned classical piano pedagogue, Vicente Scaramuzza (he also taught Martha Argerich, Enrique Barenboim [Daniel’s father], Horacio Salgán and Osvaldo Pugliese, among others), but he soon discovered tango and his bohemian life finished him too early.
Pedro Laurenz created a unique school of bandoneon playing (after studying violin), recording duets with his idol Pedro Maffia. He performed with the most important tango groups and absorbed the compositional techniques of the revolutionary style of Julio de Caro (brother of Francisco).
Juan ‘Pacho’ Maglio was the first bandoneon player to make recordings, for Columbia records. In 1912 he recorded Armenonville, the name of the first elegant cabaret/restaurant in Buenos Aires. His nickname ‘Pacho’ became synonymous with records: the recording industry was booming at that time and he was such a success that when a person went to the record store they would say: ‘give me a Pacho’ or ‘dame un Pacho’ meaning ‘give me a record’.
Born in Uruguay, Gerardo Matos Rodríguez was best known for La cumparsita (‘The Parade Float’) which was composed in 1916 and premiered in 1917 – for many, it is considered the Argentine national anthem.
Mariano Mores was the ultimate crossover media star, succeeding in the recording studios, radio, TV and movies. His shows tended to gravitate towards the Music Hall style of performance, where lighting, dancers, singers and the composer himself conducting from the piano, became huge undertakings.
As a child, Roberto Pansera played bandoneon and studied under Domingo Federico. Later, Piazzolla encouraged him to study harmony and recommended him to Alberto Ginastera who taught him composition at the piano and helped him get a scholarship to study in Italy. Pansera also played organ.
José Pascual followed in the line of distinguished pianists Francisco de Caro and Osvaldo Pugliese. His Arrabal (‘Slum’) has all the elements of a great tango with beautifully ornamented lines, contrasting sections in major and minor modes, improvisatory style, and is both melancholic and light-hearted.
Sebastian Piana was a classically trained pianist who accompanied silent movies, variety shows and diverse orchestral groups where he would perform opera transcriptions. He also composed for film, theatre and taught at the Municipal Conservatory of Music ‘Manuel de Falla’, and conducted choirs in schools.
Julián Plaza was a pianist, bandoneon player and composer, and his talent as a great arranger helped him to attain a well-deserved high place in his field. He worked under Pugliese, Troilo, Salgán and Piazzolla, as arranger and as performer. Some of his most notable tangos are Nocturna, Danzarín and Sensiblero.
Osvaldo Pugliese and his older brothers played violin. The piano eventually won Osvaldo’s affection and he was subsequently trained at the conservatory. After performing in many tango groups in association with Gobbi, Troilo and Laurenz, he was able to form his own orchestra. His music is imbued with his very personal style, with strong counterpoint, dissonances and rhythmic flair, all elements that make the tango A los artistas plásticos (‘Homage to the Visual Artists’), a perfect example of Pugliese in the 1960s.
Ángel Gregorio Villoldo, who was born in Argentina in 1861, and considered the father of tango, was perhaps the musician that best understood the city of the old Buenos Aires of the late 1800s leading up to the years of the First World War. He died in 1919.

Reviews

“This month on “Latest/Greatest: The Best Albums of the Month”, host Zev Kane shares his January favorites. See the complete list here: https://www.wqxr.org/story/latest-greatest-february-2021/” – WQXR (New York)

“Lovingly selected and superbly played by the terrific Argentine-American pianist Mirian Conti.” – Rafael’s Music Notes