If you're seeking the dark soul of Tango then this might not be the CD for you, something along the lines of Astor Piazzolla's "Zero Hour" may be more apt.
If, however, you are looking for the glorious melodic heart of Tango then you need look no further.
This is quite simply a wonderful selection of superb melodies from the tango genre, beautifully arranged and conducted by the versatile Slovak composer and pianist Peter Breiner. (Beatle fans may recall Breiner's excellent and witty baroque release "The Beatles Seasons" back in 1987 on EMI). The pieces are played by the Razumovsky Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble established for recording for the Naxos and Marco Polo labels.
Whilst tango is not primarily an orchestral genre, there can be no doubting that these adaptations work; they are strong melodically, harmonically and rhythmically, easily lending themselves to this larger platform. What's also refreshing about this CD is the selection of material. Unlike many other tango CDs on classical labels, it doesn't just include renditions of Astor Piazzolla's work but includes other composers such as Julian Plasa and Geraldo Rodriguez.
The melodies are carried by the flute, piano, accordion, strings, trumpet and trombone, often alternating throughout the various pieces. What many may find unusual is that the flute figures prominently in this tango programme. If you trace tango music right back to it's early origins though, you'll find that the dance was generally accompanied by the violin, guitar and flute - prior to the bandoneon replacing the guitar. Of course, there are many tango works that were not actually originally written for the bandoneon.
I have to say that the flute really does work with this material, flautist Sefika Kutluer brings a rich warmth to these timeless melodies. The use of the orchestra also yields added scale and colour to the arrangements. Peter Breiner mixes things up a little, adding elements of baroque and jazz to these arrangements and for me this fusion makes the listening experience all the more richer. Take note though, these are not gritty renditions - some may find the production just a tad too smooth.
This recording was made in 2001 at Slovak Radio and while I wouldn't say that the sound quality is particularly bad, it isn't up there with the best sounding classical CDs. For a recording of a symphonic orchestra, it just isn't as dynamic as it should be and sounds slightly thin. The soundstage doesn't have the depth I would expect either from a recording such as this. If you compared this recording to say Charles Dutoit's Tangazo (on the Decca label) these shortcomings become apparent. This really is a great shame because the content of this CD is really very good indeed. It's easily one of my favorites for this genre of music, the melodies are irresistible and the arrangements enchanting.
The liner notes in the booklet are also informative, giving brief details of each track and the respective composer. It would have been nice if Carlos Gardel's "Por Una Cabeza"(the tune featured in "Scent Of A Woman" ) had been included in this selection, if only because it's one of my favorites! However, those who would like an orchestral version of this classic may want to check out "Cinema Paradiso", which includes a very good arrangement conducted by John Williams and featuring Itzhak Perlman.
When we think of the tango we often think of it's unashamedly sexual character and blatant sensuality and the music undoubtedly at times conveys this spirit. In a way though this stereotype does a dis-service to the genre, it is clearly far more than this; plaintive and evocative one moment but then passionately energetic and emotionally charged the next. This music is as moving and uplifting as any of my baroque CDs. Peter Breiner has done a very good job here.
Given the cost of this CD - I paid under a fiver for it - and the quality of the content, it's an absolute bargain. Do wish Naxos would get it re-mastered though.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com:3.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 starsTango for EARS rather than the FEET...28 July 2006
By vmzfla - Published on Amazon.com
This disc is not for those expecting ballroom danceable tango routines. Instead conductor/arranger Peter Breiner uses elements of jazz and pop to create modernistic mini-tango tone poems. The flautist carries most of the melody, while speckles of jazz trumpet add spice to each selection. The full orchestra bloom adds warmth. The natural tango instruments of piano(again Breiner)and accordion at least try to keep things somewhat authentic. The Slavonic NAXOS company orchestra seems to be enjoying the unusual foreign repertoire, giving us a pleasant light listening experience.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 starsNice try, but look elsewhere before you settle with this Eurotango25 Jun 2006
By Daniel Culveyhouse - Published on Amazon.com
Expect plenty of Latin delights if you listen to this CD, but the production of the CD could have gone better. They watered down the Piazzolla works, and they flooded this tango extravaganza with too much flute solo. Not bad for a Bohemian orchestra attempting Argentine tango, but I prefer ensembles from South America to delight me with that naughty naughty music from Buenos Aires!