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From the extra interviews we learn more of how he 'filled life with laughter and humour,' (Diana) and how, for Amelita (singer / lover) he was 'one of the greatest, most important musicians in the world.' The best bits -- and ones you would want to return to -- are from Donna Carroll singing, unaccompanied, extracts from her favourite Piazzolla songs (immensely moving) and the pianist, Pablo Ziegler, demonstrating how Astor's music differed from traditional tangos in rhythms and articulation -- another education you might want to pay a couple of limbs for!

A scene from 'Tango Nuevo'. © 2004 BBC Worldwide Ltd
A scene from 'Tango Nuevo'. © 2004 BBC Worldwide Ltd

Tango Nuevo deserves the word 'indispensable!' There's a somewhat zany bandstand and fairy-light set in a television studio with an audience who are very British and polite when they ought to be howling their enthusiasm -- but what a thing this is! There are bits of Astor introducing the music and explaining things (some of which have already found their way into the Mike Dibb film) and, frankly, he's on a bit of a boastful 'high' here. But -- what the hell! The music and the music-making speaks for itself and I can only refer you to that: [listen -- title 2/chapter 2/0.05:13-0.06:32, 'Milonga del Angel']. Still, for me, the most extraordinarily and beautifully powerful and sad and typical and encapsulating of all his works is Adios Nonino [listen -- title 2/chapter 9/0.27:52-0.29:27].

As an envoi on the DVD, there is a rehearsal sequence of Milonga del Angel by a mix of familiar Piazzolla instrumentalists (and their mastery cannot be disputed) with a couple of 'newcomers'. Pianist, Joanna MacGregor and accordion-player, James Crabb (who was Music Director of the performance of Maria de Buenos Aires which I recently so enjoyed in Copenhagen) add their contribution to the certainty that this isn't peripheral music but, rather, essential music -- defying category but never defying mastery [watch: title 26/chapter 1/0.5:37-0.6:53].

Copyright © 8 June 2005 David Wilkins, Eastbourne UK

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Astor Piazzolla in Portrait

OA 0905 D DVD9 4:3 and 16:9 anamorphic NTSC region 0 (worldwide) Stereo NEW RELEASE 213' BBC Worldwide Ltd 2004

Tango Maestro, a film written, filmed and directed by Mike Dibb

Tango Nuevo, a film produced and directed by Tony Steveacre

Piazzolla: The Man and his Music (54 minutes of additional interviews from Tango Maestro (including Daniel Piazzolla, Diana Piazzolla, Richard Galliano, Oscar López Ruiz, Horacio Malvicino, Pablo Ziegler and Fernando Suárez Paz)

Bonus track - an alternative take of Milonga del Angel, performed by James Crabb, Joanna MacGregor and members of Piazzolla's last quintet

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