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For most of us, ‘tango’ suggests the glamour, and elegance, of high society Buenos Aires, and yet the dance has its origins in the less-salubrious parts of the city where many immigrants from Europe and Africa gravitated at the end of the 19th century. There is debate about the origins of the musical form of ‘tango’, but it is generally thought the music was firstly influenced by the relentless rhythms of the African slaves’ drums known as ‘tan-go’; and secondly, by the popular music of the pampas which combined the rhythm of indigenous South American music with that of the early Spanish colonists. There is a theory that the name ‘tango’ could also have come from the Latin word ‘tangier’ which means ‘to touch’.

Whatever the origins of ‘tango’, thanks to brilliant composers such as Carlos Franzetti, the dance music remains as popular now as it was a hundred years ago. Carlos is one of New York’s most skillful composers and so it was a great thrill when he agreed to write a piece for GABE. He writes about Brasstango:

“Notwithstanding the fact that tango, as a style of music, falls into the popular genre, many classical composers have incorporated this Argentine dance in orchestral and chamber compositions. When Graham Ashton asked me to compose a tango for GABE, my immediate concern was the use of brass instruments instead of the typical tango orchestra, comprised of bandoneon, strings and piano. Obviously, the title Brasstango was the easiest part of this composition. It was both difficult and rewarding to write this piece, which begins as a tango and departs into other Argentine musical styles as milonga and even candombe with its very rhythmic sixteenth-note patterns. My gratification came after hearing the absolute musicianship of the members of GABE, augmented by a bandoneon (yes, I needed the color of the instrument most identified with tango) and a double bass. I would say that Brasstango as performed by some of the most talented brass musicians in the world, represents a mini tour of Buenos Aires and its surroundings”.

from notes by Graham Ashton © 2007


Scenes of spirits
SIGCD099Download only


Track-specific metadata for SIGCD099 track 8

Recording date
22 December 2005
Recording venue
Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, State University of New York, USA
Recording producer
Steven Epstein
Recording engineer
Richard King & Sebastian Cortone
Hyperion usage
  1. Scenes of spirits (SIGCD099)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: May 2007
    Download only
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