Thursday, 14 October 2010

World Routes: again

'So tango is still telling Argentines who they are, just as it did 100 years ago. That's amazing.' (Banning Eyre, presenter.)

I've just listened again to the BBC tango programme from Saturday, and I've become very appreciative of the thought and discernment that's gone into it. It focuses on four contemporary musicians, and plays their music, recorded especially for the programme. & it's made by a musician and broadcaster who is there simply to find out more from the musicians he talks to. It's very refreshing.

Particularly welcome is the emphasis on contemporary musicians who are deeply involved in the long and extraordinary tradition of tango. Piazzolla gets mentioned a couple of times, but that's all. It ignores the attempt, popular a few years ago, to modernise tango by taking a superficial element or two and adding an electro beat to it.

Interesting that the four musicians involved – Adriana Varela, Ignacio Varchausky, Cristobal Repetto and Ramiro Gallo all mention tango in connection with Argentine identity. For Varchausky ...'tango equals identity' and he says that identity is an issue for Argentines, who see themselves as 'Europeans in the wrong place... we are Latin Americans but we are not, we don't belong here... Tango is a very lucid mirror of this issue...' Ramiro Gallo (violinist, friend of Varchausky and co-founder of the Orquesta Escuela, and a big presence in the film Si Sos Brujo), who now leads his own quintet and who seems to be an inventive composer and arranger, to judge by his quintet's four CDs, says: '...Tango... is a way of life, and is a way of knowing who I am and who the people around me are...'

Gallo closes the programme with a 14-piece tango orquesta, assembled for the programme. I think there's only one piece of music not recorded directly for the BBC... and that's a recording of Gardel.

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