Tango in 1939

The end of the decade sees D’Arienzo’s orchestra break up completely, Biagi getting into his stride and Canaro starting to lose his way.

Biagi (Falgás) 1939-40

Andrés Falgás
Andrés Falgás

Unlike D’Arienzo, Biagi recorded very few instrumentals. In the first two years, he worked with two singers, Teófilo Ibáñez & Andrés Falgás  and the latter was to record eleven sides between July 1939 and April 1940. In the early period, direct comparisons with D’Arienzo’s orchestra are inevitable. In both, the role of the piano is key, but D’Arienzo’s rhythms are driven by the bandoneóns, whereas Biagi makes more prominent use of violins. It is easy to underestimate the contribution Biagi had made in D’Arienzo’s orchestra. Despite D’Arienzo’s commercial success (and he easily outsold every other recording orchestra at this time) it is arguably Biagi, and not D’Arienzo, who leads the ‘rhythmic school’ of orchestras through the 40s – but more of that, later.

  • Queja indiana (26-Oct-1939)
  • Griseta (26-Oct-1939)
  • Son cosas del bandoneón (22-Sep-1939)
  • Cielo! (18-Sep-1939)

Canaro (Famá) 1939

Francisco Canaro

The long and fruitful partnership between Canaro and Maida ended in the recording studio in December 1938. By February 1939, Ernesto Famá had taken Maida’s place at the microphone and he was to stay until October 1941, singing alongside Francisco Amor. Musically, Canaro has moved away from the softer, more lyrical, style of playing he had preferred in the mid-30s, but his musical response to the rise of the rhythmical school, led by D’Arienzo, seems to be backwards-looking. These songs are very fine and popular with dancers, but Canaro, now aged 51, is running out of creative drive. Increasingly, he seemed ready to adapt his style to suit the popular requirements of the day. It was good for record sales, but there was little to come that was truly distinctive or memorable.

  • Lo pasao pasó (30-Mar-1939)
  • Abandonada (11-Sep-1939)
  • Te quiero todavía (4-May-1939)
  • Todo te nombra (9-Oct-1939)

D’Arienzo (Echagüe) 1939

Alberto Echagüe
Alberto Echagüe

After Biagi’s abrupt departure in June 1938, D’Arienzo needed a new pianist. He turned to the experienced Juan Polito, who had led the Orquesta Típica Brunswick in the early 30s. He lacked Biagi’s flair but was a safe pair of hands. Alberto Echagüe had already recorded four sides in 1938 and twenty-three more were to come before the decade was out. He was arguably D’Arienzo’s best singer (or at least, the one who suited the orchestra best). However, after a final session on 22 December 1939, the whole orchestra resigned, along with Echagüe. Polito had split from D’Arienzo to run his own orchestra with Echagüe on vocals. Ironically, both Echagüe and Polito were to return to D’Arienzo (but not for many years), but another era was over.

  • Dos guitas (3-Mar-1939)
  • Trago amargo (22-Dec-1939)
  • Que dios te ayude (14-Nov-1939)
  • El vino triste (1-Sep-1939)

Most of the D’Arienzo transfers available on Spotify from around this period sound pretty awful. Here’s a 30s extract from the TangoTunes transfer of Trago amargo to compare. I have undertaken some processing to reduce clicks, crackle and hiss, but apart from this extract being a compressed MP3 file, this is exactly as I play it.


Click here for ‘Tango in 1938’.

Click here for ‘Vals in the 30s’.