Astor Piazzolla’s legacy continues as the Fugata Quintet make their London debut at the Southbank
On Monday 28th November, the vibrant young London-based Fugata Quintet make their official London debut with a program dedicated to Astor Piazzolla’s dream line-up: the Quinteto.
Hailing from the UK, Greece, Serbia and Armenia, the Fugata Quintet is an unusual marriage of musical personalities. Like Piazzolla himself, the players are all classically-trained musicians but their diverse music passions have led them to be involved in successful jazz, rock and world music ensembles. The group was inspired by the ethnic melting pot of Astor Piazzolla’s Buenos Aires, and use classical performance practice methods and techniques to explore the unique possibilities and timbres offered by Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango.
“Piazzolla’s favourite line-up of bandoneon, violin, guitar, piano and double bass has the widest range of expression and infinite possibilities even to mirror an orchestra. The appeal of Piazzolla’s music lies in the tension between traditional structures and spontaneous expression. His improvised music should be regarded as highly as his scored works in the classical canon.” Anastasios Mavroudis
Fugata Quintet formed in 2007 while studying together at the Royal Academy of Music, London. The five members – Zivorad Nikolic on accordion, Anastasios Mavroudis on violin, Antonis Hatzinikolaou on guitar, Anahit Chaushyan on piano and James Opstad on double bass continue Astor Piazzolla’s legacy of the Nuevo Tango Quintet, his favourite, and most successful combination of instruments. The ensemble offers an enormous range of possibilities in terms of sound. Not only does each instrument in the quintet offer uniquely expressive sound qualities, it also provides the rhythmic heart of tango with a variety of percussive effects produced by using almost every part of the instrument..
The group have performed arrangements of compositions across a broad range of musical styles, from Bach, to modern commissions, and have already performed all of Piazzolla’s published works for quintet at jazz venues around the UK. Most recently, they have performed at Vortex Jazz Club, for the Ignite series at Royal Albert Hall and at Blackthorpe Barn International Music Series. In Greece, they directed a government-funded production of Piazzolla’s Operita Maria de Buenos Aires, starring an international cast. Following their concert at the Purcell Room, Fugata have been invited to appear at Annie Lennox’s private fundraising event for her charity Mothers to Mothers ( http://www.m2m.org ).
Their Purcell Room program will include Piazzolla classics, such as movements from the composer’s extremely popular Seasons of Buenos Aires, as well as a variety of lesser-known Piazzolla works.
- Concierto Para Quinteto
- Retrato de Milton
- Adios Nonino
- Verano Porteño
- Invierno Porteño
- La Muerte del Angel
- Romance del Diablo
- Vayamos al Diablo
- Tangata “Silfo y Ondina”
Piazzolla, who was born 90 years ago and died in 1992, achieved enduring worldwide popularity through his fusion of classical and traditional tango music. As a boy growing up in New York, Piazzolla was exposed to a broad range of musical styles. He was introduced to his native land’s Tango music by his father, who being nostalgic for his homeland presented his son with a bandoneon that he had bought from a New York pawn shop. Piazzolla’s natural talent and virtuosic ability on the bandoneon was so great that a visiting Carlos Gardel was so impressed with his playing, as to invite him to tour as part of his band, only to be dissuaded at the last moment by the boy’s father. In 1933 he studied piano with Hungarian Pianist Bela Wilda, through whom he developed a strong love of J. S. Bach. In New York Piazzolla was also exposed to Jazz, which was extremely popular at that time, and he too became mesmerised by the genre. In 1936, the family moved back to Argentina, where he first hears tango violinist Elvino Vardaro (who later joins his quintet), which inspires him to move to Buenos Aires and pursue a career in tango music.
After meeting Polish pianist Arthur Rubinstein, who encouraged his study with Argentine composer Ginastera, Piazzolla claimed to have “bad feelings” about tango, and abandoned his roots altogether. In the next ten years he became obsessed with purely classical composition, composing symphonies, overtures, piano concertos, chamber music and sonatas, in his own words, ‘I threw up a million notes per second’.
In 1953, he won the prestigious Fabien Sevitsky Competition for Young Composers in Indianapolis, which included a full scholarship to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. It was here, that Piazzolla finally recognised the importance of his heritage. Piazzolla recounts the story:
“When I met her, I showed her my kilos of symphonies and sonatas. She started to read them and suddenly came out with a horrible sentence: ‘It’s very well written’. And stopped, with a big period, round like a soccer ball. After a long while, she said: ‘Here you are like Stravinsky, like Bartok, like Ravel, but you know what happens? I can’t find Piazzolla in this’. And she began to investigate my private life: what I did, what I did and did not play, if I was single, married, or living with someone, she was like an FBI agent! ……She kept asking: –“You say that you are not pianist. What instrument do you play, then?” And I didn’t want to tell her that I was a bandoneon player, because I thought, “Then she will throw me from the fourth floor”. Finally, I confessed and she asked me to play some bars of a tango of my own. She suddenly opened her eyes, took my hand and told me: “You idiot, that’s Piazzolla!”. And I took all the music I composed, ten years of my life, and sent it to hell in two seconds.”
Subsequently, Piazzolla dedicated his artistic work to combining the ‘sophistication’ of classical music with the spontaneous passion of the tango. He eventually went on to achieve enduring worldwide fame for his unique style. Piazzolla formed his first of many Nuevo Tango Quintets in 1960, and it was with this ensemble, that his career began to take flight. The composer continued to work in many other formations, but he achieved most popular success with the quintet. It has been said that it was the musical synthesis that best expressed his ideas.
More about Fugata Quintet
Members of the Fugata quintet are all top graduates from the Royal Academy of Music, London.
Virtuoso, Greek guitarist Antonis Hatznikolaou has received distinctions in numerous international guitar competitions and festivals, including prizes at the Ivor Mairants International Guitar Award (UK, 2005) and the prestigious Julian Bream Prize (UK, 2006) adjudicated by Julian Bream himself. In 2007, he was A Park Lane Group Young Artist, which led to his Purcell Room solo debut in 2008. At the Royal Academy of Music, he was awarded a DipRAM – the highest performance award conferred by the Royal Academy of Music.
Armenian Pianist, Anahit Chaushyan studied under world renowned pianists such as Moguilevski, Berman, and is a recipient of the Diploma D’Onore at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena and is a laureate of the International Emmanuel Durlet Piano Competition in Antwerp. She has made numerous concert appearances at the leading concert halls like Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, the St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Salle Gavot in Paris.
Greek-British Violinist Anastasios Mavroudis completed his MMus at the Royal Academy of Music under Lydia Mordkovitch and Igor Petruvshki. Anastasios is a dedicated advocate of Greek music, and is currently completing his PhD on the chamber music and violin works of Yorgos Sicilianos. His research and performances of Greek Compositions have been broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and the National Radio Institute of Greece. He performs on a 1773 Gennaro Gagliano violin.
Serbian Accordionist Zivorad Nikolic is the recipient of Sir John Barbirolli Foundation Award and has also already performed at top venues throughout London. Recent highlights include live performance for the BBC Radio 2 programme Friday Night Is Music Night as well as a concert at the Purcell Room, with Eastern European group, Paprika.
English Bassist and composer, James Opstad is a sought-after jazz musician of the London music scene. He has performed at venues such as the Purcell Room, Kings Place, Vortex, and the Bath Festival Fringe. He has also been acknowledged for his talent as a composer, winning the 2005 EPTA composition competition and was highly commended in the BBC/Guardian Composition Competition for three consecutive years. He has collaborated on the release of five albums, including Fugata Quintet’s debut album, which is available oniTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
Watch Fugata Quintet’s video, filmed in the atmospheric setting used in the ‘The Kings Speech’ on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwGObBcXtP8
Further information can be found at www.fugata.co.uk
Follow us on twitter @ntmediauk