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  • Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine

"This disc is an astonishing amount of fun"

"A blaze of white cello light appears in the tango heavens: This disc is an astonishing amount of

fun. Friedrich Kleinhapl is a cellist with a huge sound and clearly a huge heart. The performance of Gerardo Herman Maros Rodriguez’ La cumparsita (you’ll know it) is brilliant: Tom and Jerry cartoon moments meet the slinkiness and sexiness of the South American ballroom. Kleinhapl’s tone is focused, even wiry; his virtuosity surely second to none, as the helter-skelter Assassination Tango by Luis Enriquez Brecalov proves early on. Reminders are here that the tango is not necessarily fierce; Piazzolla’s Milonga in Re is an expressive song, a duet between cello and clarinet (the excellent Matej Vaselka). Then there are the raised-eyebrow phrases of El choclo, full of hidden, cheeky promise. A central tranche of Piazzolla, a fine reminder of this genius composer’s never-ending invention, is beautifully shaped. The arrangements (all on the disc fall to Alexander Wagendristel and Andreas Woyke, except for Las pajaros perdidos and Libertango, which fall to Leoš Kuba) are stunningly slick, each and every one. A trip to “Cafe 1930” (from Histoire du Tango) certainly allows one to relish Kleinhapl’s sweet upper register, and also the tone of the oboist of the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic, Alžběta Jamborova; “Nightclub 1920,” headily evocative, is hardly less fine, garlanded with woodwinds. The two arrangements by Kuba have their own level of inspiration: The famous Libertango is full of dynamite, brightly scored and brilliant.


The well-drilled orchestra under Robert Knužik has a real sense of style and rhythm, not to

mention unanimity. Try their contribution to Michelangelo 70. There is a huge number of repetitions here, each as accurate as the last, all heard against the generously-toned playing of Kleinhapl; the final “big band” gesture of that track is genius. The punctuating, soft chords against the long cello melody in Piazzolla’s Melodia en la menor (Melody in A Minor) are just beautiful. Kleinhapl makes his cello sing, of that there is no doubt, imbuing melodies with nostalgia but never sentimentality; Vuelvo al sur can suffer from this, but there is not a trace here. The level of communication between cello and orchestra in La muerte del Angel is insane.


A second set of assassins appears in the form of John Powell’s El Tango de los assassinos.

Clearly depicting sneaky little critters, this is a lovely piece from a composer (b. 1963) whose music is clearly worthy of investigation. This is a highly dramatic four minutes that simmers and then crescendos to a heady close. The most modernistic moments come in the introduction to Los pajaros perdidos (The Lost Birds), with its wide registral space that prepares the way for a slowly unfolding, markedly cuddlier melody before the glowering orange-reds of the tango once more blaze forth. This is a fascinating piece; when the brakes come on, brass intone with a suddenly Wagnerian gravitas. The energy of the tango is ferocious and up close. The recording, too, is up close, if not overly ferocious, and it is certainly detailed. The performers give their all to these fine arrangements of tango, in spectacular sound. Excellent booklet notes seal a very special release."



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