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Piazzolla & Beytelmann: Encuentro

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Album Review

Argentine nuevo tango master Astor Piazzolla met composer Gustavo Beytelmann once, toward the end of his life. That gives this album a bit of the flavor of a torch handoff, and indeed Beytelmann sounds from the evidence here like an heir to Piazzolla to rival jazz-tango pianist Pablo Ziegler. The entire program holds together very well. From the Piazzolla side there's a trio of pieces called Camorra (Brawl), numbered I, II, and III. Composed in 1987 and 1988, these come from late in Piazzolla's life, and they're superb, dense, dark pieces; the only possible reason for their neglect has been the sufficiency of Piazzolla's own recordings and performances. These works and the similarly ambitious Contrabajissimo frame three works by Beytelmann, which have the stated aim of trying to "make [tango] advance, whilst seeking a synthesis between my various musical centres of interest, such as jazz and contemporary music." This they accomplish, with music that pushes the especially pungent dissonances of the late Piazzolla pieces a step further while breaking up the instrumentation into smaller groupings and turning the guitar loose in jazz-like improvisations, all the while remaining anchored in tango. These are complex but entirely accessible pieces that ought to please any lover of Piazzolla. France's Quatuor Caliente is augmented by the guitar of Laurent Colombani in all of the Piazzolla works plus Beytelmann's Encuentro (track 4), essentially creating Piazzolla's so-called First Quartet (bandoneón, violin, piano, bass, and guitar). The guitar drops out and is replaced with a vibraphone in Beytelmann's Otra voces, and El desaparecido (track 6), the gnarliest piece of all, features the quartet by itself. Kudos also go to engineer Philippe Teissier du Cros, whose edgy, treble-heavy sound evokes the intentionally slightly distorted sound Piazzolla himself favored. Strongly recommended. ~James Manheim, Rovi

Piazzolla & Beytelmann: Encuentro, Quatuor Caliente
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