Unfortunately, most of us did not get to see Astor Piazzolla perform when he was alive. Now, thanks to the BBC, at least one of his live performances has been preserved for posterity. Astor Piazzolla In Portrait is a mixture of music, biography, and interviews of people germane to his story. It is an extremely important work for those who love the music of Astor Piazzolla in that it captures the essence of the man. It is important as well for those who are undecided about him, because after you see and hear this, you will be a fan forever.
I went straight to the music. The set is rather short yet is extremely powerful. Piazzolla offers commentary on his music between each song, giving the listener greater understanding of what Piazzolla is about. The songlist tilts heavily toward his modern material, and though I would have liked to hear some other songs as well, I am grateful that this DVD exists at all!
Highlights are an exquisite rendering of Milonga Del Angel, Zero Hour, and what is perhaps his best-known piece, Adios Nonino. The bonus feature of a rehearsal take of Milonga del Angel with James Crabb on accordion and Joanna MacGregor on piano is beautifully done as well and is about as true to Piazzolla as one can get on an accordion.
After the music, check out the hour and forty-five minute Tango Maestro which is a biography of Piazzolla interspersed with short interviews of musicians who featured prominently in Piazzolla's life. If that isn't enough, there is nearly another hour of additional interviews with family and some of the musicians Piazzolla worked with during his final decade. This is not boring stuff by any means, all these features bring Piazzolla vividly to life. And if you come away without a greater understanding of the man and his music, its time to watch and listen again!
If you are interested in Piazzolla on any level, I highly recommend this DVD. It is one you will want to watch time and again, and one you will cherish for life. With the DVD comes an informative booklet in English, French and Spanish. Get Astor Piazzolla In Portrait while its available, you won't regret it!