Piazzolla review in El Paso

A great review of the Quint Quintet Piazzolla show we played in El Paso last month:

El Paso Inc.


Pro-Musica’s ‘Tango’ packs them in
By Betty Ligon

They were almost hanging from the rafters!

Who? The mesmerized audience at the El Paso Pro-Musica concert. They packed the 250-seat Fox Recital Hall at the University of Texas at Paso with 494 ticket holders.

Not only did they fill all the downstairs and balcony seats, but artistic director Zuill Bailey also directed an overflow crowd to sit onstage in folding chairs quickly arranged against the sidewalls.

What was the attraction for old-time supporters and Pro-Musica board members, as well as kids from kindergarten through college? The feisty Quint Quintet, who whooped it up for “A Night of Tango,” that’s who!

No one was gliding across the floor in the movements of the Argentinean dance. The program consisted of works written by Astor Piazzolla and played by five fiery musicians as if all hell had broken loose. They were founder Philippe Quint, violin, from Russia; Lidia Karminska, bandoneon (accordion), Poland; Mat Fieldes, bass, New Zealand; Oren Fader, guitar, U.S.; and Alejandro Vela, piano, Mexico.

The quintet, a diverse composite of virtuosic players, was recently organized by Quint to explore and promote the works of Astor Piazzolla and Argentine tango. Twice nominated for a Grammy, the charismatic violinist already pursues an extensive solo concert career and is artistic director of the Mineria Chamber Music Festival in Mexico City.

When I first heard about the tango concert, I assumed it meant dancers. A daughter who takes tango lessons in San Francisco made a point of visiting me so she could go with me to the concert. She was a font of information and aware that the music was not written to accompany dancers.

I did some research about Piazzolla and learned that he was responsible for changing the tango culture from strictly dance music to include classical, pop, jazz and ethnic.

With that background it was easy to sink into the hypnotic sound that opened with a crashing long glissando and ran from glorious guitar riffs through pensive, hushed passages. The demanding bandoneon was the dominant instrument and the striking young Lidia made its sensuous rhythms sing or whisper to a fare-the-well.

Two of the works from Piazzolla’s four seasons, “Invierno” and “Verano,” were hauntingly beautiful. “Muerte” and “Milanga del Angel” made an exceptional impression for me.

Each of the players received a front and center type solo stint. Fader and his guitar received the most thunderous and extended applause, but each of them deserved the enthusiasm of the cheering audience.

Bailey announced next season’s Chamber Music Festival would begin Jan. 15, 2012, and a favorite violinist from past festivals, Soovin Kim, would perform. Great news!