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Viva Tango! performing at San Antonio Chamber Music Society's 2024 End of Season Event

Viva Tango!

Sunday, April 28, 2024

All I can say is ”Wow”! What a way to celebrate the final day of Fiesta 2024 — listening to a unique program of tango music by two tango giants, Lalo Schifrin and Astor Piazzola.

The multi-talented ensemble of six players was drawn from a broad range of musical styles. Viva Tango! is a rare collaboration between these distinguished artists, each a master on his own instrument: renowned classical violinist Cho-Liang (Jimmy) Lin and pre-eminent clarinetist David Shifrin (a distant cousin to Lalo Schifrin), along with bandoneon virtuoso Hector Del Curto form the primary melodic line-up, while the rest of the ensemble, bassist Pablo Aslan, pianist Alex Brown, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, provide the rhythm and percussion underpinning. However, it was impossible not to notice and marvel at the remarkable individual featured solo sections by each member of the ensemble.

“Letters from Argentina”, written for this ensemble by Lalo Schifrin in 2005, provided the inspiration for the program called Viva Tango!. Described as a musical love letter, the work takes us on a fascinating journey through Argentina’s diverse landscapes and characters, mostly expressed through tango and evoking everything from strummed guitars, catchy drum rhythms and wistful violin melodies. Schifrin’s strong jazz influence shines through in his frequent use of jazz rhythms and syncopation.

On the second half of the program we were treated to a feast of tangos from Astor Piazzolla’s vast output, featuring the gritty tango rhythms, sharp syncopations and highly ornamented melodies so characteristic of his sensuous, passionate music. I was most thankful that they played one of my personal favorites, the plaintive and melancholy “Oblivion”, created in 1982, and famously featured in the 1984 Italian film ‘Enrico IV’ (‘Henry IV’). Considered to be one of Piazzoll a’s most popular tangos, this ensemble’s rendition on Sunday was just hauntingly beautiful. Ah….tango makes me swoon.

After a standing ovation and vigorous applause at the end of the program – the audience was treated to a surprise encore – the ensemble played one of Lalo Schifrin’s best known works: the theme from television’s “Mission Impossible”. This elicited an uproarious response, leading to excited and enthusiastic compliments from concertgoers as they exited Trinity Baptist Church.

What a fabulous way to wrap up the San Antonio Chamber Music Society’s 81st Season!

– Ms. Treble