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November 27, 2010

Troilo's Bandoneon

Ceremony at the National Academy of Tango
Letter from Buenos Aires, November 24, 2010.
By Beatriz Dujovne

Walter Rios playing Troilo's bandoneon. Horacio Ferrer and Soria in background. Click to enlarge.

Last week, the National Academy of Tango held a ceremony honoring Amelita Baltar (singer), Ernesto Baffa, Rodolfo Mederos, and Walter Ríos (“bandoneonistas”). The president of the Academy and “the” poet of Buenos Aires, Horacio Ferrer, introduced each artist with great affection. Although over one hundred people attended, the ceremony had an intimate tone.

I cannot tell you how moving it was to hear each artist speak.

Amelita, former partner in life and in music of Astor Piazzolla, holding Ferrer’s hand, expressed gratitude for the privilege of singing the “poesía caliente” (hot poetry) of Ferrer to the music of Piazzolla.

Listening to the musicians talk about their beginnings was to understand why the bandoneon (the “fueye” as it is called in Buenos Aires) is who they are. Ríos began playing with the buttons of his father’s bandoneon before he was old enough to walk. Mederos was a little kid when a neighbor put a fueye on his lap. For him, the sounds come from the fragrances of his early home, the sight of the dog laying on the dirt floor, the smell of “mate cocido,” and the love of his parents who, despite their “lean” pockets, managed to pay for his musical education when he was just 6 years old.

The program was to conclude with Ríos playing Troilos's bandoneón, which rests at the museum of the Academy (it is played twice a month). He passed the instrument to his colleagues, which gave us the experience of listening to the sounds of the bandoneon in the hands and souls of the three maestros.

Baffa hesitated abut what to play (for 1/2 a second) and about 10 people in the audience shouted "Responso!" The other 2 men played compositions of their own.

You may wonder if the musicians made any comments about the bandoneon of Troilo. Mederos was cute in his depressed proletarian presentation (contrasting with Walter Rios, who was dressed up with a very expensive silver gray silky suit). Mederos started getting acquainted with the bando before really playing and said (without meaning to be funny), "I must say a musical instrument is like underwear: to be used by one person." He was the last one to play and said "in respect for the music I am going to remove the microphones."

And did Troilo's fueye sound different when played by different musicians? Totally. I wish I knew the technical terms to describe it. Mederos's sound was like a soft lament that goes on and on. Baffa's sound was as seasoned and full as Troilo's orchestra. Rios' sound was highly refined, lively.... like eating oysters with a silver fork. - Beatriz

Beatriz Dujovne
November 24, 2010
Copyright © 2010 Beatriz Dujovne. All rights reserved.

Posted by beatriz at November 27, 2010 04:00 PM


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