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Artist: Friedrich Lips & his PIAZZOLLA - Studio
Friedrich Lips (Bayan), Vladislav Igolinsky (Violin), Kirill Rodin (Violoncello), Svjatoslav Lips (Piano), Vladimir Toncha (Violoncello), Mark Pekarsky (Percussion), Nikolaj Lgovsky (Percussion)
Supplied by: Artist
Review date: November 2008


Once again, the Russian bayanist, Friedrich Lips, has given the music world something more to admire. The ten pieces heard on this CD are performed with the unerring expertise expected of this group of musicians. They play with perception, sensitivity and style throughout this outstanding collection of Piazzolla masterpieces.

The first six pieces, all by Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), represent some of his most popular compositions. All of them have been recorded multiple times by multiple groups. The members of the Friedrich Lips & his PIAZZOLLA-Studio not only may be added to these numbers but they also contribute significantly important performances of the repertoire.

Adiós Nonino is perhaps Piazzolla's single most famous piece of his many compositions. While Nonino was written as a pleasant, chirpy tango from Piazzolla's days in Paris and in honor of his father, Vicente, it evolved into its present form Adiós Nonino after the death of his cherished father. Piazzolla, in 1980, said: "Perhaps I was surrounded by angels. I was able to write the finest tune I have written. I don't know if I shall ever do better. I doubt it." He played it thousands of times, in at least twenty different arrangements. While the symbolism and the pure beauty of it are indeed special, the next five pieces are no less important, however, and represent some of his best repertoire. Both Milonga del ángel and Muerte del ángel will draw your immediate admiration as will Meditango, Tanguedia III and Tango apasionado. Tango apasionado is part of Piazzolla's The Rough Dancer and The Cyclical Night and he said, "It's music to be played by half-drunk musicians in a bordello."

The CD closes with the four pieces, Otoño (Autumn) porteño (1969), Invierno(Winter) porteño(1970), Primavera (Spring) porteña (1970), and Verano (Summer) porteño (1964), which comprise the tango cycle known as Las Cuatro Estaciones or The Four 'Buenos Aires' Seasons. (A porteño is an inhabitant of the city of Buenos Aires, therefore, the name of the city is often included in the title.) Although not written as an homage to Antonio Vivaldi (c. 1678-1741) and his The Four Seasons (Le quattro stagioni), the two compositions are often compared. Le quattro stagioni was part of Vivaldi's Opus 8 appearing in 1725, representing four concertos of his 500 concertos. Piazzolla's four compositions were not even originally intended as a single suite, but were at times performed in that manner by Piazzolla. As a matter of fact, other pieces related by titles, such as Milonga del ángel and Muerte del ángel, for example, were also played as a single suite at various times.

Vivaldi earned a reputation as a violinist of great energy and daring with the sheer vitality of his work inspiring soloists to perform dazzling displays of virtuosity. In this respect, Piazzolla also displayed this same raw energy, while garnering a reputation as both composer and virtuoso performer on the bandonéon. Certainly, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons is an early example of program music, where the music tells a story or depicts a scene, and Piazzolla's four pieces comprising this tango cycle could likewise compare, although Piazzolla made no effort to do this. Piazzolla often opened with Autumn, however, while Vivaldi began with Spring when played together. Both composers featured individual players as soloists in a concerto style. The Otoño, for example, has one of the most amazing solos for the bandonéon left hand!

Piazzolla's four pieces offer an ideal introduction to the unique tango-classical styles created by the Argentine master. There are furious unison passages contrasting with stretches of moody quiet. The pieces are always exciting; they are never dull. The purposeful rubato, the often harsh and edgy accents, the sometimes impatience of the music - glide into a never-cloying sweetness and back again. Listen to the tango-fugue in Primavera!

The term virtuoso describes both the repertoire and the musicians listed above. While many know and admire the serious classical work of Friedrich Lips, perhaps even more will do so as a result of his recordings of the Piazzolla tangos. It is not often that an artist with the stature of Lips can be expected to perform both genres so favorably, and yet, he does! The sumptuous phrasing, technical clarity, impeccable bellows control, and yes, even those small but beautifully executed grace notes, attest to the significance of his professional expertise, whether it be the music of Gubaidulina or Piazzolla.

You will like this CD; it is one you will return to time and time again. It is completely enjoyable and absolutely superb from beginning to end. If you like great musical performances and you also like the music of Piazzolla, you should add it to your library now. (Lips CD 020)
Reviewed by Joan Cochran Sommers, November, 2008.

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