Astor Piazzolla:
El Tango

Originally released on LP in 1965, this album combines Piazzolla's music with Borges' poetry. The LP is out of print, and I do not have a copy. Any further information or reviews would be welcome.


1. El tango
2. Jacinto Chiclana
3. Alquien le dice al tango
4. El títere
5. A don Nicanor Paredes
6. Oda intima a Buenos Aires

El hombre de la esquina rosada
(A suite for 12 instruments, narrator, and singer.)
7. I. Aparición de Rosendo
8. II. Rosendo y la Lujanera
9. III. Aparición de Real
10. IV. Milonga nocturna
11. V. Bailongo
12. VI. Muerte de Real
13. VII. Epílogo


Astor Piazzolla -- Music, arrangements, and direction
Jorge Luis Borges -- Texts
Edmundo Rivero -- Voice
Luis Medina Castro -- Reading poems
Daniel Binelli -- Bandoneón
Jaime Gosis -- Piano
Oscar Lopez Ruiz -- Guitar
Roberto Di Filippo -- Oboe
Margarita Zamek -- Harp
Antonio Yepes -- Percussion and vibes
Leo Jacobson -- Percussion
Antonio Agri -- Violin
Hugo Baralis -- Violin
Mario Lalli -- Viola
Jose Bragato -- Cello
Kicho Diaz -- Bass

Liner Notes

Astor Piazzolla:
Before commenting on this record's music I would like you to know what it means to me to be a collaborator of Jorge Luis Borges. The responsibility has been big, but even larger the compensation when I learned that a poet of his magnitude identified himself with all my tunes -- and it will be even greater if you share that feeling.
The music for "El hombre de la esquina rosada" was composed in march, 1960, in New York City. The work came out of an idea by choreographer Ana Itelman, who adapted sentences from Borges' short story. The score is for narrator, singer, and 12 instruments.
The musical treatment ranges from the simplest tango essence to hints of dodecaphonic music.
The music for Jorge Luis Borges' poem "El Tango" has been especially composed following and respecting its contents. This gave me the opportunity to experiment with aleatoric music in the percussion scores. The recording has been made exclusively by my quintet, which means noises you hear were made solely with their instruments. The violin produces a percussive effect by hitting the end of its handle with a ring, doing "pizzicati" with "glissé," imitating a siren with a "glissé" on the string, imitating sandpaper with the end of the bow behind the bridge and a drum by doing "pizzicati" with the nails between two strings. The electric guitar imitates a bongo, sirens with "glissé" effects, add minor seconds and strange effects with six strings open behind the bridge. The pianist hits treble and bass notes with the palms of his hands, and with his fists on the lower notes. The bassist hits the back part of his instrument with the palm of his hand, makes "glissés" on the bass strings and hits four strings with his bow. Bandoneón imitates a bongo by hitting the box with the left annular finger. It also has, on a side, a sort of metallic guiro to be scratched with a nail. All these effects were improvised to introduce so-called aleatoric music into tango.
The milonga "Jacinto Chiclana," the tango "Alguien le dice al tango," and the tango-milonga "El títere" are the simplest tunes in this recording. Simple because they simply follow the spirit of Jorge Luis Borges' poems.
"Jacinto Chiclana" has the spirit of a milonga played with guitar, that is, the type of improvised milonga.
"Alguien le dice al tango" can be considered, melodically and harmonically, within the 1940s style, and "El títere" could be defined as the prototype of light, joyful and "compadrón" rhythm of the turn of the century.
Due to its dramatic contents, I have composed "A don Nicanor Paredes" on an 8-bar measure of Gregorian chant and resolving the melodic part without artificial modernism -- everything very simple, deeply felt and honest.
The "Oda intima a Buenos Aires," composed for singer, narrator, choir and orchestra, is perhaps the most audacious of all tunes for singing. Despite that, its melodic line is simple. It begins in ascending chromatic mode and ends up in descending chromatic mode.
To all . . . my thanks for having the opportunity to make this record.
--Astor Piazzolla

LP Information

The original LP is listed as El Tango: Astor Piazzolla y su Orquesta -- Canta Edmundo Rivero 'El Tango' textos de Jorge Luis Borges. (Polygram S.A. LP 24260 / Polydor 829866-2, 1965, Argentina). It is currently out of print, and has never been released as a CD. Th eremake, however, is available below: Borges & Piazzolla.

Other Borges-related Works by Piazzolla:

The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night -- (1987). A cycle of 14 pieces loosely inspired by Borges, this work was commissioned for the Hispanic American Arts Center's production of Tango Apasionado.

Borges & Piazzolla -- (1996). A new recording of the works on the 1965 El Tango LP, this CD features Daniel Binelli, Jairo, and Lito Cruz.


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--A. Ruch
21 May 2000