March 18, 2023 7:30 pm

The tango…erotic with more than a hint of violence…has attracted dancers and enchanted listeners since its appearance in Buenos Aires more than 100 years ago. By the 1920s, a more innocent style of tango had become popular world-wide, but shady connections remained. The classic tangos on our program include El Choclo–named for a popular nightclub owner–and Por una cabeza–the story of a gambler who compares his horse-racing addiction to his attraction to women. The ultimate tango composer was Astor Piazzolla, who transformed the tango as Johann Strauss, Jr. did the waltz. Born in Argentina and raised in New York City, Piazzolla’s musical tastes ranged from Bach and Rachmaninov to Gershwin and Ellington. Astor’s father, homesick for Buenos Aires, bought his son a bandoneón–a kind of accordion with buttons instead of keys. Back in Argentina, the young man began performing with Argentina’s leading tango orchestras most evenings while listening to orchestra rehearsals at the opera house every morning. In time, he wrote tangos unlike any heard before. Daring harmonies, complex textures, and soaring melodies brought excitement, nostalgia, and profundity to the seductive tango. Performing with the WSO on this program is Héctor del Curto, a brilliant bandoneonist who performed with Piazzolla in the 1980s. Don’t miss this…it’s the real thing!

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Bill Hoffmann