Chamber Works of Astor Piazzolla / Escualo5
With his tango nuevo, Astor Piazzolla has been welcomed into the world of classical music in a way that no other ‘non-classical’ composer has experienced. His music is played in concert halls around the world, and has been arranged for the most varied forces: symphony orchestra, string quartet, brass ensemble, mandolin orchestra, harpsichord… Taking their name from Piazzolla’s Escualo (‘Shark’), written in 1979 for his Quinteto Tango Nuevo, the five musicians that make up ESCUALO5 have a different approach, replicating the formation that Piazzolla performed with for much of his career: bandoneon, violin, piano, guitar and double bass.
The aim isn’t to recreate Piazzolla’s own performances, however – based in Munich but hailing from respectively Brazil, Germany, Greece and Belarus, the members are soloists in their own right, bringing their individual talents as improvisers and arrangers to the recordings. The program that ESCUALO5 have devised for their first album includes some much-loved as well as less familiar pieces for the quintet setup – Primavera Porteña, Soledad, Adiós Nonino, Fracanapa – as well as arrangements of Tango Suite and Histoire du Tango, originally for two guitars and flute and guitar, respectively.
The notes to this release by the ensemble Escualo5 rightly point out that the imprint of Bach is strong in Astor Piazzolla's music, and one way the similarity manifests itself is in the malleability of both composers' works to arrangement for new combinations of instruments. Since the revival of Piazzolla's music began in earnest in the late '90s, he has been heard in almost every conceivable medium, from flute and guitar to full symphony orchestra. Re-creations of Piazzolla's original quintet of bandoneón, violin, guitar, piano, and double bass have appeared as well, some of them from Piazzolla's Argentine followers.
Listeners may see that lineup in the graphics for this release by the ensemble Escualo5 and might conclude that it's a neo-traditional experiment, but that's not really what's happening. First, note that keyboardist Alexander Kuralionok uses not the bandoneon but the more powerful accordion, and he is matched by a big, virtuoso sound from the other players. Several of the pieces are arranged for new combinations, the Tango Suite for guitar and piano, and the Histoire du Tango, the masterful tracing of tango styles since 1900, for accordion, guitar, and double bass. The biggest thing is that without violating Piazzolla's musical texts, the group brings to his music a new and intense spirit. It is as if, having been established as part of the classical canon, Piazzolla's music is now subject to what has been called the chain of interpretation. It's a tremendously exciting release, consisting of Piazzolla standards like the Primavera Porteña from the Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas and lesser-known pieces like Fracanapa; Escualo5 adds something new to every single one, and the album will appeal to heavy Piazzolla collectors and newbies alike.
Release Date: December 03, 2021
Catalog Number: BIS-2605
Period: 20th Century
Composer: Astor Piazzolla