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BMG "Tango Argentino"

BMG, who own the old RCA Victor company, finally began putting a serious re-issue programme in 1996 with this collection. This is a very exciting series for the dancer because RCA Victor had so many of the main dance orchestras signed up: D'Arienzo, Tanturi, Di Sarli, D'Agostino / Vargas, Troilo - it's all here on 64 discs.

D'Arienzo is really the cream of the Tango Argentino catalogue. There are ten discs, made up as follows: two of the early hits; one and a half with Héctor Maure, and one and a half of Mario Bustos; one and a half of late 40s Echagüe, the second being filled out with Armando Laborde; two with Jorge Valdez (1950s - not my cup of tea at all) and finally two 1960s instrumental discs - (in stereo!)

The Di Sarli catalogue here is if anything even better because harder to obtain, and this despite the first disc, an instrumental, not being up to the standard of the FM Tango disc it seeks to emulate. We can skip this disc and buy Tango Argentino's Instrumental volume 2 to extend our collection. The real gems though are the three discs of middle period (1930s) Di Sarli with Alberto Podestá and especially Roberto Rufino. Just buy them, okay?

A real find is the sixth and final disc in the Tango Argentino Di Sarli catalogue: a disc with the baritone Jorge Durán. After the dreadful El Bandoneón disc I never wanted to hear Durán again, but here he is revealed as a powerful, tremulous baritone of tremendous sensitivity. As a bonus we also get four beautiful instrumentals showcasing Di Sarli's characteristic piano decorations.

Five Tanturi discs is not one too many either and BMG have really put El Bandoneón to shame here. The two discs with Alberto Castillo are nothing short of superb. The first volume includes the bulk of his most famous tangos such as the gut-wrenching Este Noche Me Emborracho. It's a super disc which, like Troilo/Fiorentino Vol.1 and Di Sarli, was overplayed in our milongas when we first discovered it. Happily volume 2 has just as much to offer - great transfers of the milongas Mozo Guapo and Mi Morocha as well as some of Tanturi's early up-tempo tangos such as Pocas Palabras, La Vida Es Corta and the instrumental Comparsa Criolla - a straight lift of Comme Il Faut if ever I heard one!

Tanturi's recordings with Enrique Campos may be less spectacular but many porteños think them better for dancing. Campos's songbook has much in common with his great contemporary, Roberto Chanel, who can be heard with Osvaldo Pugliese's orchestra on the Reliquias label. This becomes clear on the first Tanturi/Campos disc, which contains highly distinctive versions of La Abandoné Y No Sabía and Muchachos Comienza La Ronda. The real highlights though lie elsewhere: Una Emoción, Recién and Que Nunca Me Falte are all true classics. The second Campos disc is more individual with a clutch of lovely tangos that you are unlikely to know from other interpretations. Encuentro, Calla Bandoneón and in particular Sollozo De Bandoneón are real gems.

The fifth disc contains that marvellous interpretation of Alma De Bohemio in which Osvaldo Ribo holds onto that note seemingly forever. But there is much more to enjoy here: a superb version of Remembranza, a recording of San José De Flores that you can actually dance to and a sung version of Raza Criolla (El Taita) that seems to have nothing in common with Pugliese's instrumental interpretation. Tanturi also imparts his pulsating rhythm to Pugliese's Recuerdo and La Cumparsita.

Don't forget as well the disc of the amazing May 1982 Piazzolla/Goyeneche concert at the Teatro Regina, including the definitive version of Balada Para Un Loco.

In fact the catalogue demonstrates a great affection for Roberto Goyeneche. In addition to this live concert with Astor Piazzolla and a disc of his hits with Troilo there is a five disc collection entitled "El Polaco En El Recuerdo" as well as further individual discs of his recordings with Atilio Stampone and Raúl Garello.

Finally the catalogue contains three compilation discs. For those wanting a compilation including waltz and milonga as well as tango, TANGOS, VALSES Y MILONGAS DEL 40 Vol.1 is a clear favourite. The other two contain only tangos. Tangos de Antologia is the better balanced with two tracks apiece from D'Arienzo, Troilo, D'Agostino/Vargas, Di Sarli, Angel Vargas (on his own), Tanturi/Castillo, Baffa-Berlingieri, Gobbi and Fresedo (with Ray). Arrabal de Buenos Aires contains only sung tangos and contains as many tracks from the 1950s as the 1940s. This really feels like an Argentine's selection, which, of course, it is. Whilst there is plenty to enjoy here the non-Spanish speaking European might be disappointed.

So, that's the whole Tango Argentino catalogue in a nutshell! There is a lot of great music here. Enjoy it.

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© Michael Lavocah / 2000-2018