Our music for this week is a performance of Libertango, composed by Argentine composer Astor Piazolla. The performers are the twelve cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Astor Piazolla is one of the most important musical voices of the twentieth century. He was driving force behind the development of the tango as a popular musical form, and many have called him the “Duke Ellington of tango.” Much like his European counterparts Bartok and Kodaly, Piazolla was fascinated by folk music and sought to expose it to a wider audience. To do so, he blended Argentine folk tunes with elements of classical, jazz, and rock-and-roll. This combination of influences is a large part of what made his music appealing to such a wide audience. In fact, Libertango is often referred to as part of the pseudo-genre “nuevo tango,” which combined tango form with other styles of music to create a Latin fusion of sorts.
This week’s music also serves to point out an important but often overlooked fact about orchestras. It is easy to forget the individual musicians in an orchestra because of the collective nature of the performance, but we should remember that each of those musicians is an incredible talent in his or her own right. Most if not all of them could probably get up in front of the orchestra at any moment and perform a full solo concerto. To get their position in the orchestra, each one of them had to go through multiple rounds of ridiculously competitive auditions that included massive amounts of music. As displayed by this performance by the cellists of the Berlin Phil, we should be careful not to overlook the individual talents of orchestral musicians.