Notes by Luigi Attademo
The name of Astor Piazzolla is fatally linked to the Tango, although his artistic parable is much more complex than it appears to a superficial look. Many encounters influenced his musical life. Thanks to the great pianist Arthur Rubinstein, he became a pupil of Alberto Ginastera, whom Piazzolla kept acknowledging as the greatest Argentinian composer of his century. After this educational experience and that in the orchestra of Annibal Troilo, Piazzolla encountered European music through Nadia Boulanger with whom he studied. He then began an experimentation of his own, becoming – as he said in the Sixties – a vanguardista of the tango.
In those years he met Jorge Luis Borges, with whom he collaborated for the album El tango. Here we find the Canciones porteñas (three of which are recorded here), whose lyrics evoke the tanguera mythology. These two artists cooperated in order to recover the language and music of traditional tango, beyond all stereotypes. In an interview, Borges himself stated: “yo lo estoy rescatando para una música nueva”.
The relationship between Borges and Piazzolla was limited to this cooperation, and it ended due to the differences and distance among them. However, it represented for Piazzolla a great possibility to experiment and to work on his lifelong project of renewal of Argentinian music.
Horacio Ferrer, another great Uruguayan poet and a historian who authored a fundamental Book of the Tango, immediately recognized Piazzolla’s unprecedented artistic stance and innovative power. This led to another cooperation, crucial for Piazzolla’s poetics: it included Maria de Buenos Aires and many songs, comprising the five found in this album.
Piazzolla’s music is founded on the ground of the Rioplatense musical tradition, but it aims at a synthesis between folk music and experimental elements, begetting an immediate language capable of refreshing the tango’s idiom, also employing his classical education and his knowledge of jazz music.
As stated by Piazzolla, presenting Octeto Buenos Aires, his goal “es renovar el tango popular, mantener su esencia, introducir nuevos ritmos, nuevas armonías, melodías, timbres y formas y, sobre todo, no pretendemos hacer música llamada culta”. It is not a contamination, but rather a language transformation projected into the future. His avant-gardist goal to destructure all traditional models translates into a simple and immediately recognizable music. This connects him immediately to the audience, differently from what happened to other modernist composers.
Our project originates from the wish to overcome all commonplaces about Piazzolla’s music, which risk to impoverish its original content. We propose the intimate dimension of Piazzolla’s work, through a collection of his songs, juxtaposed to original works by Italian composers of various generations. Piazzolla’s style is thus related with the multiplicity of today’s languages, abandoning the tango clichés and entering into a fruitful dialogue with contemporaneity.
The album’s title, Oblivion, signifies that the stereotyped image of Piazzolla should be forgotten if we want to repropose his music today. We find his view mirrored by other composers, whose individual languages enter a dialogue with him.
NOTES REGARDING THE PIECES
IN WORLD PREMIERE
Written for Luigi Attademo
Por verme, llorar
Nostalgia and longing, evoking Piazzolla and his music, in an aural kaleidoscope where tango fragments and allusive gestures emerge. An interior song appears, openly or hidden through tremolos and chords, drawing the lines of this short touching threnody for the guitar.
Written in January 2021, this piece comes from my fascination for the early afternoon, the hottest moment of the summer days, when nothing actually happens – but something might surprisingly happen. Consistently, nothing happens in my piece – but something might happen.
Marco de Biasi
This piece belongs in a series of extemporaneous compositions. They aim at evoking, in spite of their written form, a constant predisposition to change, making music always living and mutable. To this goal, the initial thematic cell follows a path without pre-established structures. Moving the horizon of the events back, its thematic kernel germinates from the incipit of Balada para un loco, whose music is characterized by a spoken section of the lyrics. The voice’s cadence and the words’ rhythm elicited the piece’s rhythm and thematic mark, and it thus took life and “created itself”.
(M. d. B.)
Homenaje-Tombeau de Astor Piazzolla
Composing this short guitar piece, my goal was to pay homage to a great composer, as signified by the piece’s title. Almost immediately my memory recalled De Falla’s piece honouring Debussy, whose title I borrowed. I attempted to follow these coordinates when facing Piazzolla’s music: getting nearer while determinedly accentuating the specificity of my way of conceiving music. I chose and embraced the musical material from two pieces by Piazzolla and condensed it within a series of short and concise musical figurations, capable of building a dense musical fabric where these figures are superimposed and juxtaposed to each other. In the piece’s central section, a long melodic line is a “homage within the homage” to Piazzolla’s innate and felicitous disposition to singing. It is the precious gift of some god to the Argentinian composer.
Acentos y deseos
Rhythmical inflections, half-lights and tacit tango gestures. Possibly this is what remains, a remnant of far echoes of listened and danced Tangos. A Piazzolla fragment emerges, suffocated by new allusions and sudden fissures from urban perspectives, accidentally illuminated by unhoped-for lyrical expansions.
Lentamente si annulla nell’oblio
This guitar “song” is inspired by a fragment from Borges’ poem El Tango. Compositionally, it develops through the technique of “deleting” (typical of the contemporary artist Emilio Isgrò), starting from one of the Cinco piezas for guitar by Piazzolla. Here, the spirit of sorrowful melancholy filters unemphatically in the harmonic colours and in the more typically “Piazzollean” gestures, leading, in the final section, to the only actual quote. It is the final haven of an allusive quest for the imaginary world of the Argentinian composer.
Waiting for the Lake to sing
This is the wait for a melody: not for a traditional song, but for natural sounds – those produced by an iced lake. The layer of ice is on the surface only, and, behind it, water keeps its liquid state. The presence of different matters at different temperatures gives a “voice” of their own to iced lakes. They produce the most diverse sounds, from creaks up to a deep and warm rumble. This piece therefore presents itself as an invitation for this unique voice to show itself. Sitting nearby, we wait and produce a few sounds inviting the lake to “sing”.
Sueño… para las seis cuerdas
This piece originates from the suggestions of two poems by J. L. Borges: the poem Sueño and the milonga collection Para las seis cuerdas. The composer explored the tango’s poetics, not by recalling its most immediate dimension, but rather evoking some of its elements in the dimension of dream, following the poet’s vision more than the musician’s. The form develops out of some rhythmical, melodic and harmonic elements, which are merely alluded to and transfigured as they reach a climax of intensity, later to dissolve once more in the dimension of dream.
Even though it is not directly inspired by any single work by the Argentinian composer, this piece is led by my attention turned to his most intimate and fantastic output, particularly to the Preludes for solo piano. In some such works, Piazzolla entrusts himself to something akin to a flow of consciousness. Thematic elements are present and recognizable, but they are surrounded by a varied and unforeseeable mass of sound, blurring its features. Preludio zero is, in its own way, a homage to this undetermined form created by Piazzolla in a very genuine fashion. The title alludes both to the form of the Prelude and to my unavoidable distance from the composer’s aesthetics.
Luigi Attademo: Award-winning in several national and international competitions, among the others the “Concours International d’Exécution Musicale (CIEM)” in Geneva (1995), Luigi Attademo began his studies in his village in South of Italy with Giuseppe Racioppi, and continued under the guide of the guitarist-composer Angelo Gilardino. Among his teachers, Julius Kalmar (conduction), composers as Giovanni Guanti, Alessandro Solbiati, and the harpsichord player Emilia Fadini (Baroque music).
Doctorate in Philosophy with a dissertation on the musical interpretation, he published a book about this subject. He has been contributor to several specialized magazines. He worked in the Archive of the Andrés Segovia’s Foundation (Linares-Spain), to catalogue its manuscripts (catalogue published on the Spanish musicological magazine "The Roseta"), and he discovered there some unknown manuscripts of important composers, such as Jaume Pahissa, Alexandre Tansman, Gaspar Cassadò and others, after published in the Segovia Archive Collection by Berben Edition.
He gave concerts in Europe, Australia, Argentina, USA, India and Korea as soloist as well in chamber music.
He recorded several CDs, from Baroque music to contemporary music, among the others, a double cd dedicated to Bach music for lute (2011) and the complete works for guitar solo by Niccolò Paganini (2013), on an original guitar from that period.
In the 2007, the American magazine “Guitar Review” dedicated him an interview and a CD with his recent recordings.
In 2014 the Italian magazine Amadeus dedicated him the cover and published his CD on Fernando Sor Masterworks, played on original French instrument (Lacôte, 1830).
During these years he started to play with the violist Simone Gramaglia (viola of the Quartetto di Cremona) and he published with him a new CD dedicated to Paganini music for guitar and viola (Brilliant, 2015); in the same year, he dedicated a programme to Boccherini Quintets, playing with Quartetto di Cremona and Cuarteto Casals (last concert at the prestigious Haydnsaal in Eisenstadt).
In that year he realized another project - with the support by the Ernst Von Siemens Foundation - dedicated to Hans Werner Henze music and his masterwork El Cimarrón.
In 2016 he was the first performer of the Alessando Solbiati’s new work for guitar and 15 instruments, that he recorded in 2018 .
In the same year he has released a new Cd devoted to 19th century repertoire played on original instruments, using six different historical guitars.
In 2017 he worked to a project dedicated to Antonio Torres, and he is giving many concerts playing original guitars by Torres. He is also the curator of the Exhibition dedicated to Torres by the Museo del Violino in Cremona. After he published a new CD, A Spanish portrait, performed on an original Torres from 1888, very appreciate by the critics and for which the Italian magazine Seicorde devoted him the issue of October 2018.
He teaches at State Conservatory of Castelfranco Veneto (Italy). He was invited as expert at the Geneva and Lausanne Conservatories, and from 2010, he was regularly invited to give lecture/recitals at Royal Academy of Music of London. He has been also juror in many international competitions (Pittaluga Competition, Mottola, GFA…).
Astor Piazzolla: (b Mar del Plata, 11 March 1921; d Buenos Aires, 5 July 1992). Argentine composer, bandleader and bandoneón player. A child prodigy on the bandoneón, Piazzolla and his family emigrated to New York in 1924; in his teens he became acquainted with Gardel, for whom he worked as a tour guide, translator and occasional performer. Piazzolla returned to Buenos Aires in 1937 where he gave concerts and made tango arrangements for Aníbal Troilo, a leading bandleader; he also studied classical music with Ginastera. In 1944 Piazzolla left Troilo’s band to form the Orquesta del 46 as a vehicle for his own compositions. A symphony composed in 1954 for the Buenos Aires PO won him a scholarship to study in Paris with Boulanger, who encouraged him in the composition of tangos; the following year he resettled in Argentina and formed the Octeto Buenos Aires and, later, the Quinteto Nuevo Tango, which performed at his own club, Jamaica. Piazzolla left Argentina in 1974, settling in Paris, where he composed a concerto for bandoneón and a cello sonata for Rostropovich, among other works.
Piazzolla’s distinctive brand of tango, later called ‘nuevo tango’, initially met with resistance. Including fugue, extreme chromaticism, dissonance, elements of jazz and, at times, expanded instrumentation, it was condemned by the old-guard, including not only most tango composers and bandleaders but also Borges, whose short story El hombre de la Esquina Rosada was the basis for Piazzolla’s El tango (1969); like tango itself, Piazzolla’s work first found general approval outside Argentina, principally in France and the USA. By the 1980s, however, Piazzolla’s music was widely accepted even in his native country, where he was now seen as the saviour of tango, which during the 1950s and 60s had declined in popularity and appeal. In the late 1980s Piazzolla’s works began to be taken up by classical performers, in particular the Kronos Quartet, who commissioned Five Tango Sensations (1989). In all he composed about 750 works, including film scores for Tangos: the Exile of Gardel (1985) and Sur (1987). Shortly before his death, he was commissioned to write an opera on the life of Gardel.
Elvira Muratore: Elvira’s works come from the idea of music as experience: nothing to be understood, but simply an experience to be lived. Due to a period of studies in Mathematics, she became extremely fascinated by the idea of Zero or Void, and in particular by the differences and the similarities that can be found in different cultures, and she uses it to build her own musical philosophy.