Pablo Ziegler closes piano festival with a whole lot of tango

By Alan Becker

The closing concert of the Miami International Piano Festival’s Discovery series was an unusual one this season.  Presenting Pablo Ziegler and his ensemble, the Lincoln Theater resounded to a more populist taste by featuring the tango-saturated music of Ziegler and Astor Piazzolla.

Ziegler, a protégé of Piazzolla, was inspired by both tango and jazz, and incorporated the two styles as a teenager when he formed his Pablo Ziegler Trio. Subsequently, he was invited to play with Piazzolla’s New Tango Quintet in 1978, and stayed with them for more than a decade. More recently, in his role as educator, he has given master classes at the City University of New York and had residencies at the Indiana University Latin American Music Center, and the University of Texas in Austin.

Sunday’s concert featured Ziegler’s own entertaining music, along with that of Piazzolla arranged for various instrumental combinations. His two-piano partner was Misha Dacic, a familiar face to Piano Festival audiences. Several works for chamber trio, quartet, and quintet were performed.

Although one could make the argument that there is only so much you can do with a tango, the various instrumental combinations provided textural variety to the sound. There were slow tangos, fast tangos, sentimental tangos, tangos with lots of percussive tapping on the instruments, and Stravinsky-like tangos with strong displaced accents.

The bandoneon, an instrument which looks like a large square concertina, figures strongly in this type of music. Its reedy sound cuts through the thick textures easily, and Hector del Curto’s virtuosic control allowed him to weave in and out with an improvisational abandon.

Also outstanding was the folk-style violin playing of Alexis Cardenas, who played his important part with
gypsy-like feeling and awesome technical control.

The final group of pieces employed a piano, bandoneon, string quintet, flute, clarinet, bassoon, and percussion, and all of the instrumentalists threw themselves into the musical stew with tremendous enthusiasm.

When the concert closed nearly three hours later with the instrumental Fuga y Misterio from Piazzolla’s opera Maria de Buenos Aires, most of the audience stayed to voice their approval. Others snuck out gracefully after having enough of a good thing.

Posted in Performances

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Mon May 18, 2009
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