Accompanied by Das Kölner Rundfunk-Orchester, the Argentine tango composer, bandoneón player and arranger Astor Piazzolla (March 11, 1921 – July 4, 1992) performs his own Bandoneón Concerto “Aconcagua”. Conductor: Pinchas Steinberg.
Astor Piazzolla’s Bandoneón Concerto “Aconcagua”
Concerto Aconcagua for bandoneon, chamber orchestra, and percussion has three movements:
Astor Piazzolla, the Argentine composer renowned for revolutionizing the traditional tango, composed his “Bandoneón Concerto” titled “Aconcagua” after the highest peak in the Americas. This concerto, a quintessential piece of Piazzolla’s repertoire, showcases the bandoneón, an instrument central to tango music, within a classical framework.
Written in the late 1970s, “Aconcagua” is a testament to Piazzolla’s unique style, which merges elements of tango with classical and jazz influences. The concerto stands out for its innovative use of the bandoneón, an instrument more commonly associated with the dance halls of Buenos Aires than the concert hall. Piazzolla’s expertise as a bandoneón player himself is evident in the intricate and expressive solo parts.
The concerto’s structure is a blend of traditional classical forms with the rhythmic and melodic idioms of tango. Piazzolla’s compositional approach in “Aconcagua” involves the interplay between the solo bandoneón and the orchestral ensemble, creating a rich and dynamic musical tapestry.
- Allegro marcato: The first movement opens with a rhythmically driven, lively tempo. The bandoneón takes center stage with energetic and syncopated melodies, supported by the vibrant strings and punctuations from the brass and percussion.
- Moderato: This movement showcases a more lyrical and introspective side of the bandoneón. The music here is reflective, with long, flowing lines that contrast the rhythmic intensity of the first movement.
- Presto: The final movement returns to a fast tempo, characterized by its rhythmic vitality and virtuosic display. The bandoneón engages in a spirited dialogue with the orchestra, leading to an exhilarating and dramatic conclusion.
“Aconcagua” not only highlights the unique qualities of the bandoneón but also illustrates Piazzolla’s innovative spirit and his ability to bridge the worlds of classical music and Argentine tango. The concerto remains a significant work in the repertoire for bandoneón and orchestra, celebrated for its originality, emotional depth, and technical brilliance.
Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla (March 11, 1921 – July 4, 1992) was an Argentine tango composer, bandoneon player and arranger. His oeuvre revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. A virtuoso bandoneonist, he regularly performed his own compositions with a variety of ensembles.
In 1992, American writer, music critic, film critic, and poet Stephen Holden (born July 18, 1941) described Piazzolla as “the world’s foremost composer of tango music”.
Das Kölner Rundfunk-Orchester (WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln)
The WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln is a symphony orchestra of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR, West German Broadcasting) in Cologne. It was also known as Kölner Rundfunkorchester. In its present form, the orchestra was founded in 1947, but the groups from which it was formed date back to 1927. It is an important part of the WDR and currently consists of 56 principal members.
The repertoire includes a full range of popular music, musicals, opera and operetta, film, and classical music, including lesser-known oratorio and “easy listening” music. For several years, the orchestra has worked with younger conductors such as Titus Engel and Rasmus Baumann. The designated principal conductor is Wayne Marshall.
Note that the broadcaster also hosts a separate symphony orchestra, the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne (WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln), which specializes in “serious” classical music, and is not to be confused with the WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln.