Fugata (2CDs, 92 mins)
Precisely performed, this is Piazzolla perfection
The praise lavished on the three late Astor Piazzolla albums on Nonesuch is in part due to producer Kip Hanrahan’s seamless mixing and the manner in which the great modernising maestro’s angular sound was moulded into a kind of smooth rotundity. This double album, featuring more than an hour and a half of Piazzolla classics, is wonderful for all the opposite reasons. Here the essential quintet instruments – bandoneón, violin, piano, bass and guitar – are each given their own clear channel in which to breathe and expand. It comprises all four components of the mesmerising ‘Angel’ sequence, the three ‘Diablo’ pieces, the three-part ‘Silfo y Ondina’ (a daring, sometimes Bartókian, sometimes Satie-esque exercise) as well as the searching ‘Concierto para Quinteto’ and sometimes overlooked ‘Mumuki’: a quite sublime selection of tracks.
Fugata’s multinational band of musicians copes more than admirably with the Piazzolla challenges: the sudden changes in pace, the percussive drive, the controlled dissonance, the astringency and both the cod and not-cod melodrama. Piazzolla fans will own most of these numbers in one form or another, but they will also know that tango nuevo is all about the arrangements: this is a fresh, crisp take on timeless work.
Chris Moss, Songlines Magazine
originally printed in Songlines Magazine June 2012 Issue.
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