Thursday, September 11, 2014

[Surprise!] Fun mini-lesson in musical styles of great tango orchestras

My friend Patricia Muller, who for almost two decades has been teaching milonguero-style tango in Florence, Italy, just posted this entertaining video in a private Facebook group for us "tango dinosaurs". I couldn't wait to share it with you.

Here's the Youtube video mini-lesson, featuring pianist Mario Marzán (English sub-titles):  

I found that to be so much fun!!  

Who recognized some of the orchestras' styles, and the famous exerpts Mario played for us?  Please tell us about it in the comments section below!

When Mario played Troilo's "
variación" (variation), the speedy part, of "Quejas de Bandoneon", I automatically envisioned the feet of Maria Nieves flashing in a turbo-charged molinete around Juan Carlos Copes, in some performance 40-50 years ago! 

And speaking of "variaciónes", I loved how he played Horacio Salgán's most famous piece, "A Fuego Lento!"  In milongas, we usually don't hear music by Salgán, nor by Mariano Mores, represented here by his milonga "Taquito Militár", which you may have recognized. Salgán is more of a concert tango composer/performer, and Mores I'd call more of a show tango composer (for example, his famous "Tanguera".)  Salgán is now 98 years old, and Mores 96! 

Mario ends his video with a jazzified tango, "Lluvia de Estrellas" by pianist Osmar Maderna (1918-1951). Many of you may have never heard of Maderna.  A talented young tango musician, his career took off when he was invited to join 
Miguel Caló's orchestra around 1940. He was just in his early 20's, but I'd venture that a large part of what we recognize as absolutely "Caló" is really the orchestra with the distinctive "voice" of Maderna's piano, as important as the distinctive voices of singers Raul Beron, Alberto Podesta', and a few others. 

My only complaint about this charming and educational little video is that, for me, Mario's example doesn't do justice to Carlos Di Sarli

Let us hear your thoughts!  Please post in the comments section below.


  1. I have previewed this video many times, After watching it one more time here is what I noticed.
    When Mario Marzán played Biagi watch his right hand and you notice the small little syncopation he adds. When I played the same song I have in my music library you find the sweet pauses Biagi put in the music for the dancers to change the tempo you can dance to.

    1. Thanks for your observations, "Anon"!

      For anyone who wants to follow what "Anon" is telling us, you'll find the part in which Mario plays a bit of a Biagi vals (or as he calls it "valsecito Criollo" - a little Creole waltz) starting at 6:57. The piece is "Lagrimas y Sonrisas", and you can several recordings of Biagi playing this on Youtube, like this one:
      In this "Lagrimas y Sonrisas" video, you can find Biagi's brief piano solo that Mario imitates (a bit sloppily) at 2:17, so you can compare.

      Yes, Anon, the pauses the orchestra plays throughout the Biagi vals are beautiful. However, I didn't find them in the piano solo at the end - the same one Mario is playing. Want to comment further?

      (Next time, if you don't want to sign in, I hope you'll type your name at the end!)

  2. This video is just sheer delight. Tango IS music first and last (plus connection of course).
    I'll gladly leave double ganchos, combined with triple arrastres and finished off with a volcada to deaf tango athletes.

    1. "Deaf tango athletes" - that's funny! Or sad. But we all know what you're talking about. Thanks for your comment! (Next time, I hope you'll add your name or sign in. :) )