La Pasionaria - in concert

Mr McFall's perform La Pasionaria
Chamber Cottier Theatre, Glasgow
12 June 2013
Kate Molleson
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Tango was a fusion from the start – of folk music and formal instruments of Argentina's immigrant communities, and of dance rhythms and sad love songs and elegant salon styles.

It was music of the streets that traded in bars and brothels, and only in the 1920s, some 70 years after first hitting the slums of Buenos Aires, did classical training find its way in.

By the time composer and bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla returned to Argentina from studies with Nadia Boulanger in 1950s Paris, he had lapped up jazz and Bartok and Stravinsky, plus a whole lot of rigorous counterpoint technique. His nuevo tango incorporated it all.

Mr McFall's Chamber have been championing Piazzolla since they formed in 1996, and what's striking about hearing them now is how deeply they imbue that balance of formal and fiery. (Imagine tango dancers, bolt-upright but sensual, and you've got the picture.)

The star of this concert was the group's French first violinist Cyril Garac, whose forthright, soulful playing was entirely seductive; highlight was his gorgeously showy solo in Piazzolla's Vardarito, a tribute to legendary Argentine tango violinist Elvino Vardaro. Cellist Su-a Lee and double-bassist Rick Standley provided swinging, sultry bass lines – best felt in Piazzolla's slow Milonga del angel – and the sound of the group as a whole was velvet, taught and flexible.

Chilean singer Valentina Montoya Martinez joined for a set of self-penned songs; her lyrics are profoundly-felt (about her mother's death, the politics of South America, personal heartbreak) but a shoddy microphone let down the richness of her voice. Martinez is a warm communicator, but it was Piazzolla's instrumental numbers that stole this show.

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Mr McFall’s Chamber is a registered charity: SC028348

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