Otono Porteño (Piazzolla) – Guitar Duo Bensa-Cardinot

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Classical guitar duo Olivier Bensa and Cécile Cardinot. http://www.duo-bensa-cardinot.com Arrangement du Duo Bensa-Cardinot. Bientôt disponible sur le site http://www.lesdisquesrouges.com Cécile Cardinot joue sur une guitare du luthier Olivier Pozzo. Olivier Bensa joue sur une guitare du luthier Zbigniew Gnatek.

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla (Spanish pronunciation: [pjaˈsola]Italian pronunciation: [pjatˈtsɔlla]; March 11, 1921 – July 4, 1992) was an Argentine tango composer, bandoneon player, and arranger. His works revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. A virtuoso bandoneonist, he regularly performed his own compositions with a variety of ensembles. In 1992, American music critic Stephen Holden described Piazzolla as “the world’s foremost composer of Tango music”.[1]

Biography

Childhood

Piazzolla was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1921,[1] the only child of Italian immigrant parents, Vicente “Nonino” Piazzolla and Assunta Manetti.[2] His paternal grandfather, a sailor and fisherman named Pantaleo (later Pantaleón) Piazzolla, had immigrated to Mar del Plata from Trani, a seaport in the southeastern Italian region of Apulia, at the end of the 19th century.[3] His mother was the daughter of two Italian immigrants from Lucca in the central region of Tuscany.[4]

In 1925 Astor Piazzolla moved with his family to Greenwich Village in New York City, which in those days was a violent neighbourhood inhabited by a volatile mixture of gangsters and hard-working immigrants.[5] His parents worked long hours and Piazzolla soon learned to take care of himself on the streets despite having a limp. At home he would listen to his father’s records of the tango orchestras of Carlos Gardel and Julio de Caro, and was exposed to jazz and classical music, including Bach, from an early age. He began to play the bandoneon after his father spotted one in a New York pawn shop in 1929.[6]

After their return to New York City from a brief visit to Mar del Plata in 1930, the family moved to Little Italy in lower Manhattan. In 1932 Piazzolla composed his first tango, “La Catinga”. The following year he took music lessons with the Hungarian classical pianist Bela Wilda, a student of Rachmaninoff who taught him to play Bach on his bandoneon. In 1934 he met Carlos Gardel, one of the most important figures in the history of tango, and played a cameo role as a paper boy in his movie El día que me quieras.[7] Gardel invited the young bandoneon player to join him on his tour.[8] Much to Piazzolla’s dismay, his father decided that he was not old enough to go along.[8] The disappointment of being forbidden to join the tour proved to be fortunate, as it was on this tour in 1935 that Gardel and his entire orchestra perished in a plane crash.[8] In later years Piazzolla jokingly made light of this fateful event: had his father let him join the tour, Piazzolla would have played the harp instead of the bandoneon.[8]

Early career

In 1936, he returned with his family to Mar del Plata, where he began to play in a variety of tango orchestras and around this time he discovered the music of Elvino Vardaro’s sextet on the radio. Vardaro’s novel interpretation of tango made a great impression on Piazzolla and years later he would become Piazzolla’s violinist in his Orquesta de Cuerdas (String Orchestra) and his First Quintet.

Inspired by Vardaro’s style of tango, and still only 17 years old, Piazzolla moved to Buenos Aires in 1938 where, the following year, he realized a dream when he joined the orchestra of the bandoneonist Aníbal Troilo, which would become one of the greatest tango orchestras of that time. Piazzolla was employed as a temporary replacement for Toto Rodríguez who was ill, but when Rodríguez returned to work Troilo decided to retain Piazzolla as a fourth bandoneonist. Apart from playing the bandoneon, Piazzolla also became Troilo’s arranger and would occasionally play the piano for him. By 1941 he was earning a good wage, enough to pay for music lessons with Alberto Ginastera, an eminent Argentine composer of classical music. It was the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, then living in Buenos Aires, who had advised him to study with Ginastera and delving into scores of StravinskyBartókRavel, and others, Piazzolla rose early each morning to hear the Teatro Colón orchestra rehearse while continuing a gruelling performing schedule in the tango clubs at night. During his five years of study with Ginastera he mastered orchestration, which he later considered to be one of his strong points. In 1943 he started piano lessons with the Argentine classical pianist Raúl Spivak, which would continue for the next five years, and wrote his first classical works Preludio No. 1 for Violin and Piano and Suite for Strings and Harps. That same year he married his first wife, Dedé Wolff, an artist, with whom he had two children, Diana and Daniel.

As time went by Troilo began to fear that the advanced musical ideas of the young bandoneonist might undermine the style of his orchestra and make it less appealing to dancers of tango. Tensions mounted between the two bandoneonists until, in 1944, Piazzolla announced his intention to leave Troilo and join the orchestra of the tango singer and bandoneonist Francisco Fiorentino. Piazzolla would lead Fiorentino’s orchestra until 1946 and make many recordings with him, including his first two instrumental tangos, La chiflada and Color de rosa.

In 1946 Piazzolla formed his Orquesta Típica, which, although having a similar formation to other tango orchestras of the day, gave him his first opportunity to experiment with his own approach to the orchestration and musical content of tango. That same year he composed El Desbande, which he considered to be his first formal tango, and then began to compose musical scores for films, starting with Con los mismos colores in 1949 and Bólidos de acero in 1950, both films directed by Carlos Torres Ríos.

Having disbanded his first orchestra in 1950 he almost abandoned tango altogether as he continued to study Bartok and Stravinsky and orchestra direction with Hermann Scherchen. He spent a lot of time listening to jazz and searching for a musical style of his own beyond the realms of tango. He decided to drop the bandoneon and to dedicate himself to writing and to studying music. Between 1950 and 1954 he composed a series of works that began to develop his unique style: Para lucirseTanguangoPrepárenseContrabajeandoTriunfal and Lo que vendrá.

Studies in Paris

Nadia Boulanger with Igor Stravinsky

At Ginastera’s urging, on August 16, 1953, Piazzolla entered his classical composition “Buenos Aires Symphony in Three Movements” for the Fabian Sevitzky Award. The performance took place at the law school in Buenos Aires with the symphony orchestra of Radio del Estado under the direction of Sevitzky himself. At the end of the concert, a fight broke out among members of the audience who were offended by the inclusion of two bandoneons in a traditional symphony orchestra. In spite of this Piazzolla’s composition won a grant from the French government to study in Paris with the legendary French composition teacher Nadia Boulanger at the Fontainebleau conservatory.[9]

In 1954 he and his wife left their two children (Diana aged 11 and Daniel aged 10) with Piazzolla’s parents and travelled to Paris. Piazzolla was tired of tango and tried to hide his tango and bandoneon compositions from Boulanger, thinking that his destiny lay in classical music. Introducing his work, Piazzolla played her a number of his classically inspired compositions, but it was not until he played his tango Triunfal that she congratulated him and encouraged him to pursue his career in tango, recognising that this was where his talent lay. This was to prove a historic encounter and a cross-road in Piazzolla’s career.

With Boulanger he studied classical composition, including counterpoint, which was to play an important role in his later tango compositions. Before leaving Paris, he heard the octet of the American jazz saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, which was to give him the idea of forming his own octet on his return to Buenos Aires. He composed and recorded a series of tangos with the String Orchestra of the Paris Opera and began to play the bandoneon while standing up, putting his right foot on a chair and the bellows of the instrument across his right thigh. Until that time bandoneonists played sitting down.

In the vanguard of nuevo tango

Back in Argentina, Piazzolla formed his Orquesta de Cuerdas (String Orchestra), which performed with the singer Jorge Sobral, and his Octeto Buenos Aires in 1955. With two bandoneons (Piazzolla and Leopoldo Federico), two violins (Enrique Mario Francini and Hugo Baralis), double bass (Juan Vasallo), cello (José Bragato), piano (Atilio Stampone), and an electric guitar (Horacio Malvicino), his Octeto effectively broke the mould of the traditional orquesta típica and created a new sound akin to chamber music, without a singer and with jazz-like improvisations. This was to be a turning point in his career and a watershed in the history of tango. Piazzolla’s new approach to the tango, nuevo tango, made him a controversial figure in his native land both musically and politically. However, his music gained acceptance in Europe and North America, and his reworking of the tango was embraced by some liberal segments of Argentine society, who were pushing for political changes in parallel to his musical revolution.

In 1958 he disbanded both the Octeto and the String Orchestra and returned to New York City with his family where he struggled to make a living as a musician and arranger. Briefly forming his own group, the Jazz Tango Quintet with whom he made just two recordings, his attempts to blend jazz and tango were not successful. He received the news of the death of his father in October 1959 while performing with Juan Carlos Copes and María Nieves in Puerto Rico and on his return to New York City a few days later, he asked to be left alone in his apartment and in less than an hour wrote his famous tango Adiós Nonino, in homage to his father.

Copes and Nieves packed out Club Flamboyan in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with “Compañia Argentina Tangolandia”. Piazzolla was serving as the musical director. The tour continued in New York, Chicago and then Washington. The last show that the three of them did together was an appearance on CBS the only colour TV channel in the US on the Arthur Murray Show in April 1960.[10]

Back in Buenos Aires later that year he put together the first, and perhaps most famous, of his quintets, the first Quinteto, initially comprising bandoneon (Piazzolla), piano (Jaime Gosis), violin (Simón Bajour), electric guitar (Horacio Malvicino ) and double bass (Kicho Díaz). Of the many ensembles that Piazzolla set up during his career it was the quintet formation which best expressed his approach to tango.Piazzolla & his orchestra at television network Canal13 in 1963

In 1963 he set up his Nuevo Octeto and the same year premiered his Tres Tangos Sinfónicos, under the direction of Paul Klecky, for which he was awarded the Hirsch Prize.

In 1965 he released El Tango, an album for which he collaborated with the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The recording featured his Quinteto together with an orchestra, the singer Edmundo Rivero and Luis Medina Castro reciting texts.

In 1966 he left Dedé Wolff and the following year signed a five-year contract with the poet Horacio Ferrer with whom he composed the operetta María de Buenos Aires, with lyrics by Ferrer. The work was premiered in May 1968 with the singer Amelita Baltar in the title role and introduced a new style of tango, Tango Canción (in English: Tango Song). Soon after this he began a relationship with Amelita Baltar. The following year he wrote Balada para un loco with lyrics by Ferrer which was premiered at the First Iberoamerican Music Festival with Amelita Baltar and Piazzolla himself conducting the orchestra. Piazzolla was awarded second prize and the composition would prove to be his first popular success.

In 1970 Piazzolla returned to Paris where with Ferrer he wrote the oratorio El pueblo joven later premiered in Saarbrücken, Germany in 1971. On May 19, 1970, he gave a concert with his Quinteto at the Teatro Regina in Buenos Aires in which he premiered his composition Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas.

Back in Buenos Aires he founded his Conjunto 9 (a.k.a. Nonet), a chamber music formation, which was a realisation of a dream for Piazzolla and for which he composed some of his most sophisticated music. He now put aside his first Quinteto and made several recordings with his new ensemble in Italy. Within a year the Conjunto 9 had run into financial problems and was dissolved and in 1972 he participated in his first concert at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, sharing the bill with other Tango orchestras.Astor Piazzolla with Gerry Mulligan at the Summit recording, Milan (Italy) 1974. The image includes the producer Aldo Pagani, first from the left, and some performers, including Pino Presti, 2nd from right, and Tullio De Piscopo, 2nd from left

After a period of great productivity as a composer, he suffered a heart attack in 1973 and that same year he moved to Italy where he began a series of recordings which would span a period of five years. The music publisher Aldo Pagani, a partner in Curci-Pagani Music, had offered Piazzolla a 15-year contract in Rome to record anything he could write. His famous album Libertango was recorded in Milan[11] in May 1974 and later that year he separated from Amelita Baltar and in September recorded the album Summit (Reunión Cumbre) with the saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and an Italian orchestra, including jazz musicians such as bassist /arranger Pino Presti and drummer Tullio De Piscopo,[12] in Milan. The album includes the composition Aire de Buenos Aires by Mulligan.

In 1975 he set up his Electronic Octet an octet made up of bandoneon, electric piano and/or acoustic piano, organ, guitar, electric bass, drums, synthesizer and violin, which was later replaced by a flute or saxophone. Later that year Aníbal Troilo died and Piazzolla composed the Suite Troileana in his memory, a work in four parts, which he recorded with the Conjunto Electronico. At this time Piazzolla started a collaboration with the singer Jose A. Trelles with whom he made a number of recordings.

In December 1976 he played at a concert at the Teatro Gran Rex in Buenos Aires, where he presented his work, “500 motivaciones”, written especially for the Conjunto Electronico, and in 1977 he played another memorable concert at the Olympia in Paris, with a new formation of the Conjunto Electronico.

In 1978 he formed his second Quintet, with which he would tour the world for 11 years, and would make him world-renowned. He also returned to writing chamber music and symphonic works.Piazzolla with football star Diego Maradona (center) and singer-songwriter Jairo in Paris, 1981

During the period of Argentine military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, Piazzolla lived in Italy, but returned many times to Argentina, recorded there, and on at least one occasion had lunch with the dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. However, his relationship with the dictator might have been less than friendly, as recounted in Astor Piazzolla, A manera de memorias (a comprehensive collection of interviews, constituting a memoir):[13]One year before the Los Largartos issue you went to Videla’s house and had lunch with him. Why did you accept that invitation?What invitation? They sent a couple of guys in black suits and a letter with my name on it that said that Videla expected me a particular day in a particular place. I have a book around someplace, with pictures of all the guests: Eladia BlázquezDaniel TinayreOlga Ferri, the composer Juan Carlos Tauriello, there were painters, actors […] – Astor Piazzolla, A manera de memorias

In 1995 his family received the Konex Award, as the most important musician of the decade in Argentina.[14][15]

Musical career

After leaving Troilo’s orchestra in the 1940s, Piazzolla led numerous ensembles beginning with the 1946 Orchestra, the 1955 Octeto Buenos Aires, the 1960 “First Quintet”, the 1971 Conjunto 9 (“Noneto”), the 1978 “Second Quintet” and the 1989 New Tango Sextet. As well as providing original compositions and arrangements, he was the director and bandoneon player in all of them. He also recorded the album Summit (Reunión Cumbre) with jazz baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. His numerous compositions include orchestral work such as the Concierto para bandoneón, orquesta, cuerdas y percusiónDoble concierto para bandoneón y guitarraTres tangos sinfónicos and Concierto de Nácar para 9 tanguistas y orquesta, pieces for the solo classical guitar – the Cinco Piezas (1980), as well as song-form compositions that still today are well known by the general public in his country, including “Balada para un loco” (Ballad for a madman) and Adiós Nonino (dedicated to his father), which he recorded many times with different musicians and ensembles. Biographers estimate that Piazzolla wrote around 3,000 pieces and recorded around 500.

In 1984, he appeared with his Quinteto Tango Nuevo in West-Berlin, Germany and for television in Utrecht, Netherlands. In the summer of 1985 he performed at the Almeida Theatre in London for a week-long engagement. On September 6, 1987, his quintet gave a concert in New York’s Central Park, which was recorded and, in 1994, released in compact disc format as The Central Park Concert.[26]

WE&P By EZorrilla.

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