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Astor Piazzolla: La Historia del Tango
Gluck, Genin, Karg-Elert, Gounod
Yoshimi Oshima & Jaroslav Tůma

Piazzolla – Oshima, Tuma 

F10187   [8595017418723]   released 10/2010  

play all Astor Piazzolla - Yoshimi Oshima, Jaroslav Tůma 58:03
La Historia del Tango_Bordel 1900 4:17
La Historia del Tango_Café 1930 8:23
La Historia del Tango_Nightclub 1960 6:05
La Historia del Tango_Concert d'aujourd'hui 5:18
Oblivion 4:22
Ballet "Dance of the Furies" 5:31
Carnaval de Venise 15:46
Sonata in F sharp minor for flute solo 5:08
Ave Maria 3:10

20th century composers generally pose a problem for majority audiences – there are only a handful of them who don’t irritate the public with their “excessive” modernity, largely disowned by the uninitiated as unintelligible or discordant. Astor Piazzolla is one of those rare exceptions. For every listener, the mention of his name conjures up South American rhythms and the unusual atmosphere of his music. The The History of the Tango maps out the last century via a series of musical images from the various nocturnal establishments where the original tango flourished. Bordel 1900, Night Club 1960, etc. In my opinion, the manner in which Piazzolla works with these images in his compositions seems to approach the ideal portrayal of Baroque dances, for example, in the French or English Suites by J. S. Bach. You could probably even dance to this music, although one doesn’t really feel inclined to do so, preferring instead to listen closely, and to take in the subtle nuances through which the composer elevates the original genre in his own special way. Piazzolla’s piece was written for flute and guitar, nevertheless, the version for flute with harpsichord accompaniment undoubtedly has its appeal, with its own distinctive sound and expression. The idea for this instrumentation came from Akiko Oshima, who also wrote the score.
     We decided to use the organ to accompany another piece by Piazzolla, entitled Oblivion. This is essentially an example of improvisation on a specific instrument at a given moment in time; every subsequent performance will inevitably vary depending on the registration and potential sound of other organs. The keyboard part in Paul Genin’s Carnival of Venice is also improvised; it could even be described as a kind of paraphrase. The attentive listener may also detect shades of entirely different works in some of the interludes. In fact, we sense a certain contradiction in Genin’s piece. On the one hand, the flute part is supremely virtuoso and solemn yet, on the other, the main variation theme is somewhat paltry from a musical point of view. Despite this, or because of it, works such as these are highly enjoyable, not only for the audience, but also for the players themselves; so much so that they could conceivably provide scope for a spot of lively mischief. It’s astonishing how German composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert manages with such conviction to build up a complex musical structure, particularly from a harmonic perspective, and this using a single melodic line without accompaniment. His eloquent chromaticism delves into the expressive world of Max Reger; it comes as no surprise that both composers devoted the majority of their oeuvre to the organ.
     The Aria from Gluck’s opera has a real encore feel about it, as does one of the most popular compositions ever written, the Ave Maria by J. S. Bach and Charles Gounod. Yoshimi Oshima’s golden flute imbues these works with graceful cantilena and warm expression.

Jaroslav Tůma

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