Pedro Laurenz was not only a first-class composer and conductor, but an extraordinary bandoneón player who influenced an entire generation of musicians. His impressive technical skills are, I believe, best displayed when he executes his own brilliantly crafted variaciones for that instrument. For this post I have excerpted my favorite 10 variations from the original tangos in which they appear. Click on the individual titles below or, if you can withstand five minutes of breathtaking intensity, play the video to listen to them all in one go.
The star of this dramatic mixed tanda is vocalist Alfredo Del Río. As Abel Palermo notes in his biographical sketch, Del Río’s “great vocal facility, his special sense for interpretation, and his discipline and responsibility about taking care of his voice made him become a great professional.” The quality of the two Laurenz numbers–rarely heard at milongas–is not very good, but I’m not aware of any better transfers.
Update: I had assumed that combining Gobbi and Laurenz in the same tanda was uncommon, but in this recent interview renowned DJ Félix Picherna notes that he used to mix these two orchestras when DJing in Europe.
A tanda featuring four tangos with brilliant bandoneón variaciones by Pedro Laurenz, culminating with “Amurado”, the all-time classic by Laurenz and Pedro Maffia.
The discographies of the tango orchestras are scattered all around the web. Below is my best attempt to make the relevant links all available in one place. When I found more than one discography for a given orchestra, I chose the one which seemed most complete and reliable. I plan to keep this post updated, so if you think I’m missing something, please let me know.
Update: See here for my current attempt to improve on these discographies. The links below will gradually link to my own discographies, as they become available.
When I started dancing and listening to tango music two years ago, I quickly discovered that one of the easiest ways to identify an orchestra was to pay attention to the final two chords of the song (the dominanc-tonic, characteristic “chan-chan” ending ). Each orchestra plays those chords in its own, distinctive way, so by learning how the chords sound like, one can infer the orchestra even of songs one is unfamiliar with. The video below, which I created a while ago for my own amusement, provides a sample of the tango endings of 20 of the most popular tango orchestras. I am now posting it here in case it is of interest to readers of this blog.