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Roberto Firpo

When it comes to tracking the evolution of tango in the first part of the 20th century, the name of Roberto Firpo is equalled in importance only by Francisco Canaro.

Firpo is also extremely important as a composer. Iconic tracks such as El amanecer as well as less familiar works such as Didi stem from his pen.

Like Lomuto, Firpo is one of those bands that you just wouldn't know had a huge recorded output from the quantity of material that's available nowadays. Firpo recorded over 2,800 tracks - that's three times D'Arienzo's output, and most of what has been released has been by his quartet rather than his wonderful orchestra.

The sound and style of the quartet can most easily be described as D'Arienzo unplugged, but in reality it is the tango milonga par excellence - not tango milonga in the sense we understand it today, but in its original sense: a tango that is designed for dancers rather than singers (tango canción), posssessed of a strong, rich and varied rhythm, and the prototype of the tango of the 1940s. There is no singer in these old recordings (and even in some of the much later ones) - rhythm is everything. These tracks are well represented on Reliquias, although we may have heard too much of them

With his orchestra Firpo achieves a completely different sound. For reasons that escape me, these recordings are much harder to find. The orchestra has a great beat but Firpo holds it back, the rhythm often bubbling away in the background in an infectious manner. Meanwhile the violins wail over the top with a deep vibrato. Firpo is at once traditional and creative - it's hard to describe, just try a CD of the orchestra okay?

Tango Collection - Roberto Firpo

RGS 1717

Tango Collection just get better and better, this time stunning us with some hard-to-find recordings of Firpo's orchestra. This is definitely the place to start. Firpo's creativity is at it's peak - he even uses a French horn on the ooutstanding La murra.

This album covers the years 1935-1941, and whilst half the CD overlaps with the Reliquias CD this is still essential. RGS seem to have taken their inspiration from those prohibitively expensive Japanese albums. La trifulca on CD? Damn. Someone just stole one of my best tandas

Track list
  1. En la brecha
  2. La carcajada
  3. Didí
  4. La despedida
  5. Atardecer campero vals
  6. Vea… vea…
  7. Loco lindo
  8. Homero
  9. La murra
  10. Barreras de amor
  11. El compinche
  12. Tierra negra
  13. El amanecer
  14. Curda completa
  15. Entre los ceibos
  16. Fuegos artificiales
  17. De vuelta al pago
  18. La chola
  19. La trifulca milonga
  20. El talento

cover artwork

Roberto Firpo - Tangazos de Antaño

EMI 541727

Firpo's orchestra from 1935-1936. Fantastically inventive versions of Fuegos artificiales and La carcajada - an important cd that deserves to be more widely played.

Track list
  1. El amanecer
  2. Fuegos artificiales
  3. Barreras de amor
  4. Homero
  5. Vea vea
  6. Atardecer campero
  7. En la breacha
  8. Didi
  9. Entre los ceibos
  10. Quejas
  11. Arrepentido
  12. A media luz
  13. Dulce perdón
  14. Chola
  15. No quiero verte llorar
  16. Angustias del corazón
  17. La carcajada
  18. Desconsuelo
  19. Volver a vernos
  20. Petit gris

cover artwork

Roberto Firpo - De la guardia vieja

EMI 837577

Turning now to Firpo's guardia vieja quartet, this is the best available CD. Their versions of Ataniche, El llorón and El esquinazo are simply the best.

Track list
  1. El esquinazo milonga
  2. El llorón tango-milonga
  3. Felicia
  4. Desde el alma
  5. La payanca
  6. Ataniche
  7. El choclo
  8. Noche calurosa vals
  9. La cunmparsita
  10. Hotel Victoria
  11. Rodríguez Peña
  12. Olga vals
  13. Sábado inglés
  14. El entrerriano
  15. Champagne tango
  16. El aeroplano vals
  17. El internado
  18. Lágrimas
  19. La morocha
  20. Germaine

I want everything

Here's the full list on Reliquias (6 discs):

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© Michael Lavocah / 2000-2018