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Héctor Varela

In recent years, having settled on a concept that the Golden Age is centred in the years 1935-1945, an increasingly knowledgable revival has begun to extend its interest in tango music both back into the past (the 1920s) abd forward into the music of the 1950s. The first sign of this trend was the interest in the orchestra of Héctor Varela which emerged around 2009.

Varela was D'Arienzo's first bandoneón and arranger in the years 1940-1950, where his arrangments had been very important in adapting the orchestras style to the changing face of tango music in the 1940s. Splitting with D'Arienzo after ten years, many were surprised when his new orchestra immediately established its own personality, rather than being just another D'Arienzo copy cat orchestra

The most "classical" of these interpretations are naturally the oldest instrumentals (from 1950), but interest has settled on the Argentino Ledesma's soaring vocals from the mid 1950s. In particular, Fueron tres años seems to have established itself in the modern canon. A search on youtube revealed that Javier Rodriguez performed to it with Stella Missé in July 2009, and now it is being used by couples such as Sebastian Arce & Mariana Montes.

Having said that, those (such as myself) who prefer the style of the 1930s and 1940s remain unconvinced by this music. Whilst you probably won't be hearing Varela in a traditional Buenos Aires milonga any time soon, he does seem to have established a foothold in the newer milongas in Bs As: it looks like Varela is here to stay.

Héctor Varela - Su priméra orquesta

GDT 44

We used to recommend the double album on Lantower's Grandes Del Tango, but the whole label is out-of-print. Instead we suggest this CD on Reliquias which presents the earlier instrumentals, covering the years 1951-1953 and including Varela's very first recording: El flete.

Tierra negra is something of a signature tune for Varela, who developed the opening solo on the bandoneón whilst he was playing and arranging for D'Arienzo. The CD even has a version of the current hit Mi dolor, albeit in an instrumental version.

Track list

  1. Champagne tango
  2. Don Orlando
  3. Mi dolor
  4. Tierra negra
  5. El africano
  6. Suipacha
  7. Criolla linda
  8. La chacarera
  9. Canaro en París
  10. Llanto de amor
  11. Sábado inglés
  12. A la gran muñeca
  13. La trilla
  14. El rápido
  15. El flete
  16. A tres bandas
  17. El fustazo
  18. Los diablos rojos
  19. Aguantalo si podés (De corte antiguo)
  20. La taba milonga

Where next...

© Michael Lavocah / 2000-2018