El Bandoneón were the very first label to begin a major re-issue programme on compact disc. They have done a fantastic job in increasing our knowledge of tango music and, by extension, promoting the whole revival. Their catalogue is the broadest of all, covering all the major artists of tango, whether singers, orchestras, or composers, almost without exception. This is all the more remarkable considering that they were the first to enter this field at a time when it was very difficult to find out anything about recordings from that period.
However, the breath of the catalogue does leave it a little weak on the more important dance orchestras. The handsome face of Carlos Gardel smiling out at you from the cover of the catalogue blows the gaffe: the series editor, Roberto Daus, is clearly not a dancer.
The discs are all well programmed and always include interesting and informative sleeve notes. The drawback is the quality of the source material which in some cases is quite poor. Some of the discs are so bad that it's very difficult to appreciate the qualities of the artists, to the point where one might ignore them. The list of those so affected has some great names: Di Sarli, Tanturi. As a rule, better discs are now available for many of the dance orchestras but there are notable exceptions, of which the most important is Miguel Caló.
Within the decade of the 1930s, though, the label remains pre-eminent. The disc of the remarkable Ciríaco Ortíz, without doubt the best bandoneonista of the 1930s, is unique to El Bandoneón, and their re-issues of the great singers of the 1930s, including a magnificent re-issue of the work of Carlos Gardel over 21 discs, (giving you about 420 of his 770 published recordings) remain without parallel.
After seemingly hanging up their boots in 1998 with the release of their hundredth title and a sampler disc
the house returned to publishing in March 2000.
The highlight of this second wave are the discs of Enrique Rodríguez and José Garcia.
A four disc
best-of set including nice milonga and waltz discs helps to meet the demand for good compilations of this material,
but it's still not our favourite.
The more recent releases have concentrated on guardia vieja material and the flow of new discs is now drying up, with the catalogue standing at 157 titles.
Want to buy?
These cds are available as special order only, priced £13.50.