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MUSIC REVIEW

Piazzolla's tango passions

September 08, 2003|Lewis Segal | Times Staff Writer

Orchestral playing that managed to be urgent in attack and sumptuous in tone distinguished the Los Angeles Philharmonic's program "The Passion of Tango" on Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl.

However, conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya needs to update his notions of tango choreography. His words promised the kind of innovation that "pushes the limits of tango dancing" and represents the art's "avant-garde," but nothing of the sort took place in the segments featuring 10 accomplished tango dancers under the direction of Hector Zaraspe. Instead, nearly all the innovations belonged to composer Astor Piazzolla.

In Piazzolla's Double Concerto for Guitar, Bandoneon and Orchestra, soloists Manuel Barrueco and Horacio Romo initiated a melancholy instrumental dialogue that soon drew the whole orchestra into their orbit. The insinuating melodies, the transparency of orchestral colors, the sudden suspensions of tempo for mercurial solo ruminations and the work's spectacular rhythmic authority seemed to honor and summarize a whole century of tango artistry.

The philharmonic's performance of Piazzolla's "Tangazo" proved equally compelling, although here Harth-Bedoya was saddled with one of Zaraspe's overwrought dance dramas.

The music and dancers fared better in duets, with Si-Hwa Noh and Gytano Paradiso intricate and stylish ("La tablada"), Natalia Hills and Francisco Forquera garnishing their rather confrontational style with smooth turning lifts and balances in extension ("Lo que vendra"), and Miriam Larici and Hugo Patyn going for broke with overwhelming technical force and sensuality ("Fuga y misterio").

In other noteworthy contributions, tenor Greg Fedderly ardently sang Carlos Gardel's classic ballad "El dia que me quieras" to Larici, and small-scale tango music found Romo again demonstrating his bandoneon mastery, aided by the sophisticated playing of violinist Michael Shih, double bassist William Clay and pianist Buddy Bray.

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