Hot spots keep N.C. Symphony's tango engaging

CorrespondentJanuary 28, 2012 

  • What: N. C. Symphony – “Tango Nuevo”

    Where: Meymandi Concert Hall, Progress Energy Center, Raleigh

    When: 8 p.m. tonight

    Cost: $33- $63

    Contact: 733-2750; ncsymphony.org

— With the tango’s continued popularity as social dance and TV entertainment, it’s logical that the N. C. Symphony would organize an evening of tango and Argentinian music. Although more pops-style than usual, the program Friday in Meymandi Concert Hall under conductor Grant Llewellyn showcased the orchestra splendidly, offering the unusual and the unexpected.

The unexpected started right away, the stage set with music stands but no chairs. Composer Osvaldo Golijov asks the strings to stand during his 1996 “Last Round,” a short piece in memory of the great tango composer-performer, Astor Piazzolla, who died in 1992.

The standing added solemnity to the first movement’s foreboding rumble and the second’s emotional keening, the strings producing gorgeous, lush tone. The players’ mirror-image arrangement mimicked the structure of the bandoneón, the accordion-like instrument permanently associated with the tango.

Things brightened with Piazzolla’s “Concerto for Bandoneón,” featuring soloist Coco Trivisonno. His self-effacing style belied his mastery of this difficult instrument that has buttons on each side instead of a keyboard. The sharp chords and spiky melodies of the solos were beautifully intertwined with piano, harp and plucked strings, often dramatically underlined with timpani.

Russian native and Australian resident Elena Kats-Chernin wrote her 2009 “Re-collecting ASTORoids” in homage to Piazzolla, its five movements ostensibly reflecting his style. Unfortunately, the piece is bland and facile, with monotonous repetition and crude percussion. Even the musicians seemed uninspired as they worked their way through it.

In dramatic contrast, the final selections, four dances from Alberto Ginastera’s 1941 ballet, “Estancia,” demonstrated what a skilled composer can do. These colorful episodes blazed with images of Argentinian ranch life, energized with an array of percussion that took seven players to execute.

Before the Ginastera, Trivisonno and the strings played Piazzolla’s lovely “Adiós Nonino” while Daniel Arredondo and Karen Jaffe danced a slow tango down front. Their movements seemed too tentative and correct to be considered a performance, although their encore ending the evening, to Piazzolla’s “Milanga del Angel,” showed a bit more flair.

The evening never quite caught fire but the orchestra provided enough hot spots to demonstrate again why live orchestral music can be so satisfying and engaging.

Dicks: music_theater@lycos.com

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service