Cuarteto Cedron ‘Anclao en Paris’ 5 CD Box Set (Chant du Monde/Harmonia Mundi) 4/5

It was the onset of the Argentine junta dictatorship in the mid-1970s that persuaded a group of then young tango musicians, the Cuarteto Cedron, to cross the Atlantic and settle in Paris. They remained there for another decade between 1974 and 1984 before returning briefly to Buenos Aires in 1984 to perform and thereafter going back and forth for another twenty years before finally deciding to return permanently in 2004. It is this intial ten year period of residency in Paris and the music created there that constitutes this box set which is, in many ways a trip down nostalgia lane, to another era and the group influences reflect the climate of the time in South America with politico-social content of the folk singers such as Violetta Para and Mercedes Sosa present subconsciously. The strongest recordings date from the early period with both 1973’s ‘Le chant du Coq’ and 1977’s ‘Chances’ part of the so-called ‘cantata’ period in the quartet repertoire. These texts are revealing in that they tell of the atmosphere that reigned in Argentina under military dictatorship and help explain why other artists such as Julio Cortazar sought refuge in France. Guest vocalist on the recordings Paco Ibañez was similarly exiled from his native Spain during the Franco dictatorship and this lends a cutting edge to the music which cannot be underestimated. Overall if the music is indisputably tango, it is tango with a pared down folk influence and there are no major orchestrations. In fact with the prominence of the double bass as part of the distinctive quartet sound, there is even something of a jazz-inflected feel while the viola conveys a classical feel to proceedings. Cuarteto Cedron recorded the works of both modern composers associate with the nuevo tango movement as well as more established writers in more traditional forms such as Pugliese and Troilo. Excellent bilingual sleeve notes that feature extensive interviews with band members and an historical overview.

Tim Stenhouse