Various ‘The Jubilee album. Twenty magic years’ (ACT) 4/5 Astor Piazzolla and Manos Hadijidakis and Athenian Colours Orchestra ‘The last concert’ (Milan) 4/5

Bandoneon tango giant Astor Piazzolla passed away some twenty years ago and this previously unreleased concert is one of the very last times he ever performed in a live context before being transported back to his native Argentina on the president’s own plane, sadly in a coma. Here he is in fine form in spite of his impending illness. The pieces contained within were in fact performed a decade earlier in 1980 at the Haraklion in Athens during the August music festival and were therefore familiar to Piazzolla and an appreciative Greek audience when reprised. Two pieces were specifically composed for orchestra, both in three parts. For the former, ‘Tres tangos para bandonéon y orquestra’, there is a lovely shift between the intimacy of the bandoneon which has plenty of space in which to shine and the lushness of the strings. The second, ‘Concierto para bandonéon y orquestra’, again alternates between the two formats and impresses in the use of strings to dramatically heighten the tension. Piazzolla regularly throughout his career composed epic pieces designed specifically for film, most memorably two for Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘Last tango in Paris’. A final piece ‘Adios Nonino’ is a much beloved composition, almost a signature tune in fact, and will be more familiar territory for those who know and love ‘Zero hour’. The orchestra that accompanies Piazzolla was created with the aim of unearthing and showcasing unknown works of twentieth century music and reviving lesser known ones from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Composer and conductor Manos Hadijidakis won the Oscar for best song in 1960 in the Jules Dassin film ‘Jamais le dimanche’ and died four years after this recording, aged sixty-nine. Confirmed fans of Piazzolla’ craft will find much to marvel at in this recording which deserves to be issued on CD for the first time and is a refreshing change from the numerous live performances that are currently available. Tim Stenhouse

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