Astor Piazzolla: Milonga Del Angel
Milonga Del Angel
Astor Piazzolla (bandoneon)
Tango: Zero Hour (Nonesuch 79469)
Composed by Astor Piazzolla.
Recorded: New York, May 1986
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
Piazzolla is one of those distinctly modern artists of the late 20th century, who could combine the depths of romanticism with an acerbic sense of irony. His playing possesses both immediacy and distance, passion and a biting indifference, and the tension between these extremes is responsible for much of the power of the music. Perhaps only Sinatra had a surer touch at combining the paradoxical, love and its opposite, into a single song.
But on "Milonga Del Angel," the masks are down, the pretenses put aside, and Piazzolla offers us one of his most direct, heartfelt performances. "This has absolutely been the greatest record I've made in my entire life," Piazzolla commented about the CD, Tango: Zero Hour, where we find this track. Certainly he had reason to be happy with this music. Piazzolla never fronted a finer working band, and it was well seasoned by the time of this project. In particular, pianist Ziegler brings a jazzier sensibility to the quintet, and he clearly inspires the bandleader. Piazzolla also had hopes that this would be the recording that would finally earn him a large audience in the United States, where he had spent much of his youth, but had never received the acclaim he found in other parts of the world.
The recordings from this period brought Piazzolla new admirers, and in 1987 he performed to a sizable crowd in New York's Central Park. Yet Piazzolla's greatest fame would come posthumously. Four years after making this recording, he suffered a debilitating stroke, and in 1992 he died at the age of 71. His passing coincided with a the increasing commercialization of so-called World Music, a trend that has kept his recordings in print and widely heard long after his death. This late-vintage track is one of his finest performances, and a good introduction to a seminal artist.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia