Tango in 1935

A year of contrasts: in the year that Juan D’Arienzo begins to record again after a break of seven years, with muscular, rhythmic arrangements that seem to reinvigorate the heavy compás of the guardia vieja, Canaro moves away from his more rhythmic style, forming an association with Roberto Maida which was to carry him through to December 1938. Osvaldo Fresedo, seemingly unconcerned by either trend, continues his partnership with Roberto Ray – and that, too, lasted until late 1938.

Canaro (Maida) 1935

Roberto Maida

The prodigious work rate of Canaro was frequently astonishing. He went into the studio with his new singer, Roberto Maida, for the first time on 20 March 1935. Four tangos were recorded that day. Just five days later, they were back to record four more. Three sessions in April (11th, 23rd & 25th) followed with another eleven songs. Canaro is also changing his style of playing, which while still rhythmic, now has softer edges. The opening and closing songs of this tanda tend to harder rhythms, while the inner two are gentler in feel.

  • Ciego (25-Mar-1935)
  • Golondrinas (25-Mar-1935)
  • Cogote (23-Apr-1935)
  • Cambalache (20-Mar-1935)

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1935

In 1914, Vicente Greco recorded a performance of Hotel Victoria for the Columbia label. It had been composed in 1906 by Feliciano Latasa. The sound is probably typical of acoustic recording at that time and the performance reflects the playing style of the day. I’m not sure I’d have rushed out to buy it: here’s the opening:

Twenty years later, having previously recorded a few wholly unremarkable sides in 1928, Juan D’Arienzo got a new recording contract with Victor. His first session, on 2 July 1935 produced Hotel Victoria together with Desde el alma. Many commentators more-or-less associate this event with the beginning of the época de oro – the Golden Age of Tango – and an excitable Michael Lavocah even writes:

This is the man who almost single-handedly propelled an entire city to its feet, turning a generation of tango listeners into tango dancers. It was a revolution.

Juan D’Arienzo

Hyperbole aside, D’Arienzo certainly made his mark, even if his recording debut is actually a little low key. What really set the D’Arienzo ‘revolution’ on its course was the appointment of Rodolfo Biagi as the orchestra’s pianist (he made his recording debut with the orchestra on 31 December 1935). The earlier recordings – just ten sides – have the perfectly competent but unexciting Lidio Fasoli at the piano. They draw on an established repertoire and were in many ways somewhat backwards-looking.  The very earliest sides have rather poor sound, but Victor and the orchestra soon got into their stride.

My own approach to the music of D’Arienzo separates his output into periods marked by the changes in orchestra pianist (so important was the pianist’s role to the orchestra’s sound). In putting together D’Arienzo tandas, I rarely mix pianists, and as Fasoli only recorded five tangos, there are not many ways to combine them if you don’t want to mix them with later recordings. Here is my selection of four of them:

  • Hotel Victoria (2-Jul-1935)
  • Joaquina (12-Dec-1935)
  • Sábado inglés (19-Nov-1935)
  • Re Fa Si (3-Oct-1935)

For completeness, the fifth tango was Tinta verde: and it’s a perfectly good performance. But if you listen to Troilo’s debut recording of the same piece (from March 1938), you are forced to conclude that it is Troilo, not D’Arienzo that is on fire – but that doesn’t quite fit the conventional narrative, even allowing for the timing difference. Here are both versions:

Fresedo (Ray) 1935

Osvaldo Fresedo

The Fresedo – Ray partnership was in its third year by 1935, and it continued to produce a steady stream of recordings that remain deservedly popular and are great for dancing.

  • Recuerdos de bohemia (22-Nov-1935)
  • Volver (1-Jul-1935)
  • Isla de Capri (15-Feb-1935)
  • Pampero (15-Feb-1935)

Click here for ‘Tango in 1934’.

Click here for ‘Tango in 1936’.