Take a moment and listen to this hauntingly atmospheric music by twentieth century Argentine tango composer, Astor Piazzolla. Oblivion was written in 1982 and used in the soundtrack of Mario Bellocchio’s film, Enricho IV. There are many versions of this piece for different combinations of instruments. This performance features Latvian violinist, Gidon Kremer and comes from his CD, Hommage a Piazzolla.
Like all great music, Oblivion conjures up a complex mix of emotions which cannot be put into words. What feelings does this piece evoke for you? As you listen, pay attention not only to the melody, but to the underlying harmony and rhythm in the bass and piano.
For a contrast to Kremer’s performance, listen to this orchestral version played by the Montreal Symphony and Charles Dutoit. It’s an excerpt from a CD entitled Tangazo. If one version speaks to you more than another I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. For more music by Piazzolla, visit my post featuring The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.
Cellist, Yo Yo Ma has some interesting thoughts on Piazzolla’s music and the tango tradition in Argentina:
Tango is not just about dancing. It is a music of deep undercurrents. Because of what Argentina went through as a country, tango has become the soul of Argentina. Music is always one way people can speak when they aren’t allowed to express themselves otherwise. And Piazzolla’s tangos have the great strength of true voice…. Piazzolla’s music is endlessly passionate—full of yearning—and at the same time tremendously contemporary. There’s a quote to the effect that Piazzolla is the Ellington of Argentina, and in a way it’s true. He actually took the tango to another level by inhabiting his music. The music grew in him, and he adeptly incorporated the influences of his surroundings—whether from New York, Paris, or Buenos Aires. During the almost forty years he worked on his music, Astor Piazzolla tried many different variations—even tried an electronic ensemble! Because of this experimentation, and also his ingenuity, focus, and hard work, his music has many levels of expression and a tremendous depth. His is a truly successful synthesis of the tango and the contemporary.