Tango 250: Carlos Di Sarli

About Carlos Di Sarli

Carlos Di Sarli
Carlos Di Sarli

Di Sarli was born in 1903 in Bahia Blanca and died in 1960 in Buenos Aires. He formed a tango sextet in 1928 which recorded for Victor between 1928 and 1931. His first tango orchestra also recorded for Victor between 1939 and 1948, for Music Hall between 1951 and 1953, and again for Victor between 1954 and 1958. He recorded a single LP for Philips in 1958 before illness forced his retirement.

He was the second oldest of the ‘Big Four’ orchestra leaders and his early sextet belongs to the guardia vieja. He directed his orchestra from the piano and had previously played in several ensembles, including the orchestra of Osvaldo Fresedo.

Di Sarli worked with several leading singers, and the most important in his early and middle periods were Roberto Rufino (1939-48), Alberto Podestá (1942, 1944 & 1947) and Jorge Durán (1945-47). In his late period (the 50s) he worked mainly with Mario Pomar (1951-55), Oscar Serpa (1952-55) and Roberto Florio (1956-57).

The suggested Tango 250 collection features tandas with Rufino, Podestá and Durán, along with instrumental tandas from his early, middle and late periods.

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1939-40

The earliest recordings of his orchestra are mostly fast-paced, and this instrumental tanda is typical of his early style.

  • El jaguar (5-Aug-40)
  • Racing Club (4-Jul-40)
  • El retirao (11-Dec-39)
  • Shusheta (8-Oct-40)

Di Sarli (Rufino) 1941-43

Di Sarli’s first (and probably most important) singer was baritone, Roberto Rufino. This tanda comes from his middle period, when the pace has slowed (compared with his early recordings) and the music begins to sound more lyrical (although it never loses its rhythmic edge).

  • Cascabelito (6-Jun-41)
  • Mañana zarpa un barco (14-Aug-42)
  • Tristeza marina (7-Sep-43)
  • Griseta (21-Jun-41)

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1941-45

These instrumentals cover a four-year period in which the distinctive Di Sarli sound finds its full expression for the first time. The musical textures are often quite sparse: the violin section of the orchestra grew in size over the years, but here, it is still quite small. So while this is essentially the same sound and style of the late instrumentals, the musical textures appear thinner.

  • Ensueños (7-Sep-43)
  • El paladín (11-Dec-41)
  • Ojos negros (5-Jul-45)
  • Cuidao con los cincuenta (23-Jun-42)

Di Sarli (Podestá) 1942-44

Podestá joined the orchestra in 1942 but only stayed for a year. He returned in 1944 after the departure of Rufino, by which time his still young voice had matured, and the sophistication of his delivery is perhaps at its absolute peak.

  • Junto a tu corazón (3-Jun-42)
  • Al compás del corazón (9-Apr-1942)
  • La capilla blanca (11-Jul-44)
  • Nada (13-Apr-44)

Di Sarli (Durán) 1945

Between Jan-45 and Jan-47 Durán was Di Sarli’s only singer. He had a darker-sounding baritone voice than either Rufino or Podestá. The history of Di Sarli’s musical development was one of slow, incremental change – from the early rhythmical fast-paced recordings to the much slower late recordings (1954 onwards), where the melody is to the fore.  These songs lie about mid-way, both in terms of time and style. Durán’s vocal contribution never dominates the musical texture – for example, you can always hear Di Sarli at the piano over the voice – a perfect synthesis of voice with orchestra.

  • Solamente ella (8-Mar-45)
  • Tu íntimo secreto (30-Oct-45)
  • Porteño y bailarín (20-Feb-45)
  • Tus labios me dirán (8-Mar-45)

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1951-52

Di Sarli took a complete break from recording after Jun-48, not returning to the studio until Nov-51. The recordings for Music Hall made between 1951-53 mark the transition from the early/mature style, before the late recordings of 1954-58. The string section has grown and the pace has slowed. He was to record much of this repertoire again, later, but for all that his return to Victor and the introduction of tape mastering gave us better sound quality after 1954, these recordings represent the peak of Di Sarli’s musical powers.

  • Milonguero viejo (1951)
  • Como los nardos en flor (1951)
  • La cachila (1952)
  • El ingeniero (1952)*

*The 1952 version of El ingeniero is not available on Spotify. Despite being labelled 2a version, this is the very similar 1955 recording.

Di Sarli (Rufino) 1940-41 (Vals)

These joyful valses belong to a slightly earlier period when the predominant style of the orchestra was faster-paced.

  • Rosamel (11-Dec-40)
  • Alma mía (15-Feb-40)
  • Cortando camino (6-Mar-41)

Di Sarli (Rufino) 1941 (Milonga)

These recordings date from near the start of Di Sarli’s long career. They are medium-paced but full of rhythmic vitality.

  • La mulateada (20-Nov-41)
  • Pena mulata (18-Feb-41)
  • Zorzal (3-Dec-41)

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Further reading

Click here for a further extended article on Carlos Di Sarli – El señor del tango, with lots of additional listening links.