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Sera una Noche redbook CD

Sera una Noche redbook CD

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Date Added: Sunday 06 July, 2003

by web master

One of the privileges of being a classical music reviewer is that, in a time when classical labels frequently turn to recording new and unusual repertoire in order to survive, discs I might never usually gravitate towards arrive in my mailbox. Whenever I am tempted to ignore them and turn instead to the tried and true, I remind myself that for all the concerts I have attended in the past few years, two of the most energizing and enjoyable have been of Holly Near and Sweet Honey in the Rock - hardly your usual classical fare - while among the most dreadful have been performances of some of the operas I most love.

Which brings me to these wonderful recordings. The first two I picked up directly from audiophile labels at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas; the Naxos recording came from their fabulous PR person, while the last came as my reward for hounding the good folks at Nonesuch until they put me on their reviewerís list. All discs eschew the familiar territory of Bach, Handel, Vivald, Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, and the like in favor of lands and music more exotic to this New York/California boyís ears. And each has brought me such significant pleasure, that I can do no less than share an inkling of it with you.

Será Una Noche is one of those recordings that give audiophile labels a good name. Like all MA Recordings, it was captured by only two omnidirectional mikes feeding a modified high-sampling DAT via short runs of Cardas Golden Cross mike cable.

Ma is Japanese for "space," and space is the operative term when describing the feel one gets when hearing this music. Será Una Noche features superb musicians who make very conscious use of different sounds, textures, space, and silence to create a truly captivating landscape of aural delights. Even heard from the other room, playing in the background as I type, I find myself charmed by its colors and contrasts.

Percussionist and co-producer Santiago Vazquez specifically assembled the group Sera Una Noche to make this Tango recording for MA. As he explains in notes sent me separately, Tango was born around 1900 as a result of the fusion of music brought to Buenos Aires by immigrants from Italy, Spain, Germany, and many other places; Afrikan immigrants from Uruguay and Brazil may have also had an influence on its evolution. It birthed in brothels, marginal environments, and downtown neighborhoods. (There is a smoky style to the arrangements and improvisations on this very modern recording that speaks of these roots.) Originally played as instrumental music to accompany dancing, it soon acquired voice and lyrics, and became more refined as the century progressed. Astor Piazzolla, classically trained, is the musician most representative of the mid-century trend to refine Tango, infusing it with classical and even jazz elements, and developing it into an art form that could stand by itself in both clubs and concert halls.

While the Tango movement began to decay in the 1960s, perhaps because its lyrics usually refer to the past and what has gone before, there has been a recent resurgence of young Argentinian instrumentalists who play Tango in new as well as old expressions. At this point, their music is completely ignored by the big record companies and mass media. While the specialized press is beginning to show interest, the market for Tango, new-Tango and jazz-Tango - sometimes referred to as Musica Ciudadana - is just beginning to grow.

This recording includes "free" and "open" versions of traditional Tangos, other rhythms from argentinian folklore, and original compositions that represent a synthesis of old elements with a new, living vision. Será Una Noche contains the essence of Tango,"filtered and played by musicians not born inside the Tango tradition." Eschewing clichés, it uses vocals and instruments to "bring alive the true profundity of Tango," working with "very open structures that [give] room for improvising freely, and the blending of new ideas with old ones."

At this very moment, track 9 of 13, "Quejas de bandoneon" vibrates through my high-end system. It begins with "that" Tango melody everyone knows, then begins to sound like an Argentinian version of Jimminy Cricket, dancing its way through my living room, laughing at me and giving me a wink with its "Hernando's Hideaway" finish. Most tracks on the disc are not dance-like, per se, and few are humorous. But thanks to the brilliant combination of sound, space and silence, each is a gem.

- Jason Serinus
Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
March, 2000

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

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