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Piazzolla / Jason Vieaux, guitar; Julien Labro, bandoneon

Album Summary

>Piazzolla, Astor : Las estaciones porteñas (4)
>Piazzolla, Astor : Concerto for bandoneon, guitar & string orchestra ("Hommage a Liege")
>Piazzolla, Astor : History of the Tango
Performers Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Internationally acclaimed guitarist Jason Vieaux teams up with Bandoneon virtuoso Julian Labro and A Far Cry chamber orchestra in these new arrangements of Astor Piazzolla masterpieces. Jason is well known for his Azica solo releases including "J.S. Bach Vol. 1" and "Images of Metheny" (Jason's arrangements of the music of Pat Metheny). Julian Labro has shown his versatility on a recent release with jazz guitarist Frank Vignola on "100 Year of Django". A Far Cry chamber orchestra, based in Boston, has stayed very busy with concerts in the greater Boston area as well as throughout the United States.


A Tango Extravaganza
PIAZZOLLA – Jason Vieaux, Julien Labro, & A Far Cry – Azica

Astor Piazzolla’s music is always full of surprises and eludes easy categorization; one minute it can be lush and romantically melodic, the next it has a nearly atonal modernity that, to some ears, verges on harshness. What it never manages to become is either dull or boring.
This recording by guitarist Jason Vieaux, bandoneonist Julien Labro, and the leaderless/collectivist chamber orchestra A Far Cry is every bit as exciting and imbued with the spirit of adventure as Mr. Piazzolla’s music itself. In both Mr. Labro’s arrangement of “Las Cuatro Estaciones Portenas” and the double concerto “Hommage a Liege” the soloists and orchestra bob and weave around each other as though they’d been playing together for years. The result is music at once challenging and beautiful; if Thelonious Monk had written modern jazz tangos for Argentine folk instruments and chamber orchestra, it might have sounded something like this.
The only major drawback here is in the actual recording process, which is occasionally marred by balance issues (apparently the engineer is a great fan of bass playing) and questionable mixing choices (like orchestral swells that drown out the guitarist mid-melody.) Luckily, this sort of thing can be fixed and, assuming the record company held on to the master tracks, one may hope for an improved version of this product at some point in the future. Ideally, the guitar/bandoneon duets “Histoire du Tango” will be left alone; they’re about as close to perfect as could be hoped for.
All in all, excellent performances of consistently interesting and, often, exciting music that blends the best of European and South American traditions, classical and modern.

Recommended 81/2 out of 10 Oscar O. Veterano

Submitted on 11/15/11 by Oscar O. Veterano 
Evocative Piazzolla
This disc begins with Julian Labro’s (bandoneon) arrangement of Piazzolla’s version of The Four Seasons – and it sizzles! I’ve heard this piece performed on several occasions, but this particular group and arrangement is particularly noteworthy. The tempos are energetic, the playing precise, and the feeling of the seasons definitely comes through. This is extremely well done.

Next is “Hommage a Liege”, a Concerto for Guitar, Bandoneon, and String Orchestra. The guitar work is top-notch marvelous, and the first movement (featuring only the guitar and bandoneon) is really fascinating. Kudos to the recording engineer for capturing these two instruments and conveying their warm sound this accurately. The orchestra joins in the second movement, and the music is pleasant and exuberant. The last movement is a Tango, and Piazzolla and the musicians give us exactly what we expect here – good, solid, enjoyable music.

The final work on the recording is “Histoire du Tango”, which consists of four different “snapshots” of the tango and its evolution over the last 100 years. You can definitely hear the “bordello” origins from 1900, the café environment circa 1930, the nightclub atmosphere of 1960, and finally a more contemporary concert version in the “Concert d’Aujourd’hui” movement. The liner notes are also very good and describe the musicians and works on the program with a not inappropriate level of detail.

If you are interested in exploring Piazzolla’s music, or already appreciate and love it, this disc would make a worthy addition to your collection. Recommended.

Submitted on 01/23/12 by KlingonOpera 
Highly recommened Piazzolla
Piazzolla's music thrives in many different environments, from the standard concert stage to the jazz club, and in many instrumental & orchestral forms. In this new disc from Azica we have an intimate chamber work (Histoire du Tango, written for flute & guitar, but presented here in Julian Labro's version for bandoneon & guitar), along with two works written for or arranged (again by Labro) for guitar, bandoneon, and string orchestra.

Histoire du Tango works especially well, I think, in its new arrangement. It's a trip from Tango's traditional home, at the turn of the 20th century in the bordellos of Buenos Aires, through newer versions of the dance which Piazzolla himself contributed to or invented. The long, slow second movement (Cafe 1930) is a real highlight for me, my favourite amongst all of Piazzolla's works. Music is one of the best ways to communicate the full range of emotions that we call nostalgia, and this is a great re-creation of what would likely have been among Piazzolla's earliest musical memories. Of course, the sound of the bandoneon certainly belongs here.

Piazzolla can take pride in his own contribution to the jazzy Nightclub 1960 version of the tango; he brings 'cool' to the new form of tango (nuevo tango) he developed. The angular, avant-garde sound he brings to the final Concert d'Aujourd'hui introduces his other contribution to the form, musical ideas borrowed from classical composers from Bach to Stravinsky. This movement points to the more adventurous 'alt-classical' scene of today. The recording, made at the Cleveland Museum of Art, is warm and intimate.

Vieaux and Labro play along with A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra in Piazzolla's concerto Hommage a Liege, and in Labro's version of Las Cuatro Estaciones Porenas for the same forces. The performances are polished and alive. The recording is bright, though balancing these solo instruments with the orchestral forces is problematic. Still, this disc is very highly recommended!
Submitted on 02/14/12 by Dean Frey 
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Works Details

>Piazzolla, Astor : Las estaciones porteñas (4)
  • Performers: Julien Labro (Bandoneon); Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
  • Ensemble: A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra
  • Running Time: 26 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1965-1970

>Piazzolla, Astor : Concerto for bandoneón, guitar & string orchestra ("Hommage à Liege")
  • Performers: Julien Labro (Bandoneon); Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
  • Notes: Composition written: 1985.
  • Running Time: 16 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1985

>Piazzolla, Astor : History of the Tango
  • Performers: Julien Labro (Bandoneon); Jason Vieaux (Guitar)
  • Notes: Composition written: By 1985.
  • Running Time: 19 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: by 1985