24 June 2012


Whimsical and eclectic were Megan’s words and they may be right. Last night we saw Marcella Fiorillo again, playing Piazzolla. Marcella is wonderfully capable and richly interpretive of the Piazzolla piano repertoire, and Piazzolla is a hugely approachable master of the written, but perhaps not danced, tango. Given this, it was interesting that this performance, the launch of her new CD, was somewhat like a variety performance with an intellectual and cultural twist. It was compered (and presumably recorded) by ArtSound, opened by HE Pedro Villagra Delgado, the Argentine Ambassador, the music was presented and described by Dr Gerardo Dirié, Head of Music Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music (yes, they still have one), accompanied by poetry from Geoff Page and tango dancing from Karina and Fabian Conca. So it was a rich collage of Argentine-related arts and intellectual pursuits and the suits and Spanish in the foyer confirmed the cultural connection. Marcella played brilliantly, and Piazzolla was his fabulous self with his NewYork connections and simple chordal movements and ardent embellishments. I felt Marcella played with considerable romantic passion, but thinking on, how could she not? I was particuarly fascinated by some intros, perhaps Otoño Porteño or Parafrasis sobre Adios Nonino, that were rich with dissonance and freedom that was lost somewhat in the busily embellished but essentially simple chords. I chuckled (as I do these days when I’m particularly enjoying well performed music) at some of the complex latin ardour and some truly fascinating time slippage between the lines in left and right hands, and I felt quite touched by a piece that was dedicated by Piazzolla to his recently deceased father. I chuckled also when Dr Dirié made comparisons with Pink Floyd’s Money and Iron Butterfly’s Inna gadda de vida (now that’s taking me back!). I think that was in context of bass riffs and walking bass. His other references were more serious, to jazz and New York in the ‘50s/’60s when Piazzolla lived there (lucky man) and Mahler and perhaps Ellington and Gershwin. I also chuckled with pleasure with the formality and brooding sensuality of the tango. I enjoyed the dancing with its distant faces and lightly placed hands and precisely flailing legs and that suit that just fell off Fabian as suits used to drape from my tailor-father’s gaunt body. I enjoyed Geoff’s poetry and the mysterious voice over the PA that spoke of Maria de Buenos Aires for one tune. The Spanish was delightful and toneful if only partly understood. I learnt various things: of Spanish pronunciation (the “c” in Marcella is pronounced as English “s” not “ch”: strange for me with my Italian background); of the milonga; of the tango. There were some minor haggles: the PA voice in Maria was way too loud; the tango dancers danced to recordings (but we heard some fabulous bandoneón playing, so OK). I would have just as much liked a night of Marcella, but this was more an overview of tango and the culture and for that it was great. So, a variety performance, perhaps, but informed and skilled and an entree to a culture whose country and continent I have yet to visit.

Marcella Fiorillo played Piazzolla at the Street Theatre. HE Pedro Villagra Delgado introduced, Dr Gerardo Dirié described, Geoff Page recited and Karina and Fabian Conca danced.

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