Tango 250: Francisco Canaro

About Francisco Canaro

Francisco Canaro
Francisco Canaro

Canaro was born in San José de Mayo in Uruguay in 1888 and died in Buenos Aires in 1964. He played the violin, forming his own orchestra in 1914. He recorded for Odeón between 1926 and 1964 and produced a vast catalogue of recordings.

A generation older than many popular tango musicians, he was an important innovator in the development of early tango music. Had the Golden Age occurred a decade earlier, there is little doubt that he would have a strong claim to be included as one of the ‘Big Four’ orchestras (probably in place of the much younger Pugliese). His importance as a tango musician for dancers largely rests on his recordings during the late 20s and through the 30s; but that period has been sadly neglected by the record companies and we have very few of his best recordings available in good fidelity.

He worked with many singers over a long career, the most important of which were Ernesto Famá (1932-34 & 1939-41) and Roberto Maida (1935-38).

The suggested Tango 250 collection features tandas with Famá and Maida, together with two instrumental tandas, covering the period 1933-40.

Canaro (Instrumental) 1937-38

These instrumentals come from a period when Canaro is moving back from softer rhythms to harder ones. La puñalada is a milonga, of course, but here given a tango makeover – and it really works. It’s a very interesting arrangement, with a very prominent piano part and using trumpets in the orchestra. The tanda ends with an almost whimsical interpretation of Pampa

  • Retintín (24-Mar-1938)
  • La puñalada (12-Jun-1937)
  • La melodía de nuestro adiós (3-Mar-1938)
  • Pampa (24-Mar-1938)

Canaro (Maida) 1938

Canaro’s recordings in the early 30s had been characterised by strong rhythms. In the mid-30s he changed direction: the pace slowed and the style became more reflective or lyrical, but the pendulum swung, again, towards the end of the 1930s. It is a measure of Canaro’s commercial success at this time that he seemed wholly indifferent to the direction being taken by the new orchestras of D’Arienzo and then Troilo. These four songs come from towards the end of the Canaro / Maida partnership.

  • Paciencia (3-Mar-38)
  • El adiós (3-Mar-38)
  • Nada más (22-Aug-38)
  • Madreselva (18-Nov-38)

Canaro (Famá) 1939-40 (Vals)

The Maida years came to an end with the return of Famá to the orchestra, and with him, a return to a more rhythmic treatment of the music. However, times had changed, and ever-sensitive to fashion, Canaro had moved with the times: this is not quite the sound of the early 30s (and the fidelity has improved). These three up-beat valses are typical of the period.

  • Noche de estrellas (28-Mar-39)
  • Tormenta en el alma (28-Oct-40)
  • El vals del estudiante (29-Mar-39)

Canaro (Famá) 1933 (Milonga)

Canaro was one of the first orchestras to record milongas for dancing. Milonga sentimental was the first recording of a milonga by a major orchestra, and Canaro went on to dominate the milonga repertoire for several years.

  • Milonga del novecientos (8-May-1933)
  • Yo me llamo Juan Te Quiero (22-May-1934)
  • Milonga sentimental (9-Feb-1933)

Canaro (Instrumental) 1937-38 (Milonga)

Milonga de mis amores is one of the great milongas. The two remaining songs are full of interesting rhythms and have a gently increasing pace.

  • Milonga de mis amores (26-May-37)
  • Milonga de antaño (19-Aug-37)
  • La milonga de mis tiempos (23-May-1938)

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