New Australian tangos with guitar
reviewed by Neville Cohn
I listened with fascination to this all-Australian, all-tango compact disc which brims with good things.
What gives a number of these pieces an extra allure is this: unlike archetypal South American-type tangos – La Cumparsita, say, or Jealousy – which almost invariably evoke images of a sombrero-wearing, Rudolph Valentino-type male with brilliantined hair dancing with shawled and sultry partners in some tobacco smoke-filled, inner-city tavern, many of the tangos recorded here call to mind dancing in a very much more wholesome, light-filled venue – in the open air, say. Lithe rhythms and transparent textures are much in evidence here.
Eight composers are represented here.
I particularly like Ruth Roshan’s Low Tide, a duet for guitar and mandolin, the charm-laden, delicate latter played by the composer with Tanya Costantino on guitar.
Mark Viggiani’s finely conceived Cabaret Closed is given point and meaning by Krzystof Piotrowicz whose own Tango dla Sergei Orekhov and Tango dla Sergei Rudnev are an intriguing blend of Slavic melancholy and Spanish hauteur. They both sound tailor-made for dancing.
Rohan Jayasinghe’s haunting Hungarian Tango, originally written as a piano solo, is given a fine reading, dripping with nostalgia, by Alan Banks whose own genial, laidback Tango Improvisation 1 introduces this compilation.
Catherine Cahill’s gently stated clarinet line blends beautifully with Stephanie Jones’ guitar in Philip Bracanin’s Se baila como eres I and II, oscillating between moments which are irresistibly toe-tapping and sweet melancholy.
Mardae Selepak is both composer and performer. His Tango para Segovia has a gentle, haunting quality. In between composing and performing, Selepak does invaluable work raising funds to build an orphanage in Uganda.
All credit to the sound engineer whose skill enables the listener to experience these performances in a most satisfying way.