Tango in 1941

A great year for recorded tango music; with D’Agostino, Tanturi and Troilo all starting to record regularly. The music is mostly fast-paced and full of rhythmic energy. Even Fresedo gets into the mood, with mostly crisp rhythms to go with his signature sounds of harp and vibraphone.

Biagi (Ortiz) 1941

Rodolfo Biagi
Rodolfo Biagi

It must have been wonderful to be able to see Jorge Ortiz perform. His diction is so precise – every word is perfectly clear and every phrase is delivered with such attention to detail and shading. He makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck in Humillación. Biagi’s style is synonymous with hard-driven rhythms and strong accents, and yet listen to Ortiz delivering the lyric in Ahora no me conocés. Somehow, against the seemingly relentless pulse from the orchestra, he manages to find space and time to be amazingly free. Of course, it takes two to tango and Biagi makes the space, somehow.

  • Humillación (15-Mar-1941)
  • Carrillón de la Merced (26-Sep-1941)
  • Ahora no me conocés (26-Sep-1941)
  • Romántico bulincito (26-Mar-1941)

Canaro (Famá) 1940-41

Francisco Canaro

By 1941, Ernesto Famá is coming to the end of his second spell with Canaro. The musical style of these arrangements seems to belong to an earlier period, and with such strong competition from other orchestras of the early 40s, I rarely feel drawn to them.

  • En un beso la vida (30-Sep-1940)
  • El recuerdo de los tangos (15-May-1941)
  • Toda mi vida (6-Oct-1941)
  • Como dos extraños (30-Sep-1940)

D’Arienzo (Mauré) 1941

Juan D'Arienzo
Juan D’Arienzo

D’Arienzo struggled to fill the place left by the departure of Alberto Echagüe at the end of 1939. The role of the singer was becoming ever-more important, and D’Arienzo needed to move with the times and challenge the partnerships of Troilo with Fiorentino and of Biagi with Ortiz (and others). He finally settled on Hector Mauré. Comparing the two singers’ interpretations of Humillación, I think Ortiz wins, hands down, but Mauré was still a fine singer. However, his vocal style was not an obviously good fit for D’Arienzo, and with some notable exceptions, the two frequently sound at odds, whereas Biagi and Ortiz seem perfectly at ease.

  • Humillación (14-Jul-1941)
  • Dime mi amor (21-May-1941)
  • Infamia (15-Dec-1941)
  • Nunca más (14-Jul-1941)

The only versions of Infamia available on Spotify have rather poor sound quality – with lots of crackle and added reverberation. Here’s an excerpt from the TangoTunes transfer (which I have processed for click & crackle reduction and rendered as a high bitrate MP3 file):

D’Agostino (Vargas) 1941

Ángel D'Agostino
Ángel D’Agostino

After several years of dominance by the harder rhythms of D’Arienzo and then Biagi, D’Agostino brought a quite different sound to the early 40s. Right from the start, he had a singer, Ángel Vargas, who complimented the orchestra perfectly. The orchestral sound is dominated by the violins and by D’Agostino, himself, on piano. The sound is subtle and understated, and very rewarding for dancers.

It is very interesting to compare the recordings of Ahora no me conocés produced by Biagi and D’Agostino (recorded within a few days of each other). They couldn’t be more different, but both are very fine. Anyone curious enough might also seek out the 1952 Pugliese recording too.

  • Tres esquinas (24-Jul-1941)
  • Un copetín (24-Jul-1941)
  • Adiós, arrabal (9-Sep-1941)
  • Ahora no me conocés (9-Sep-1941)

Fresedo (Ruiz) 1941

Osvaldo Fresedo
Osvaldo Fresedo

Fresedo gives us his own take on rhythmic tango, with everything softened by the lyrical and velvety tones of Ricardo Ruiz. Just occasionally, the arrangements seem a little over the top: when we have cymbals as well as harp and vibraphone it’s sometimes hard not to snigger, but this is lovely music for dancing. There’s nothing else quite like Buscándote: it was, to Fresedo, what Poema was to Canaro.

  • Vamos, corazón (7-Oct-1941)
  • Solo tú (13-May-1941)
  • Buscándote (30-Dec-1941)
  • En este rincón amigo (13-Jan-1941)

Tanturi (Castillo) 1941

Ricardo Tanturi
Ricardo Tanturi

Like Troilo, Tanturi had been signed to Odeon, but was then deliberately denied opportunities to record. Both, free of their original contracts, switched to Victor in 1941 and were immediately successful. Tanturi was almost alone, among the leading orchestras of the early 40s, in continuing to record with a sextet, long after most other groups had enlarged both bandoneon and violin sections. The fact that every player was effectively a soloist gave the orchestra a distinctively intimate sound. Not until he regrouped, after the departure of Castillo and his replacement with Campós in 1943, did he expand the lineup to ten.

  • Noches de Colón (14-Aug-1941)
  • La vida es corta (19-Feb-1941)
  • El moro (27-Nov-1941)
  • Pocas palabras (16-Jun-1941)

Troilo (Fiorentino) 1941

Aníbal Troilo
Aníbal Troilo

In the period since Troilo’s debut recordings for Odeon in 1938, he had been building his repertoire, and refining the sound and style of the orchestra. By the time he was free to record with Victor, the orchestra was well-known from radio appearances and live performances – and it hit the ground running.

Troilo recorded with many of the leading singers of the day, and over decades, and yet it is the recordings of just one year, 1941, that are mainly played for dancers. Given the quality of the later material, that is astonishing (although it has to be said that the music-making became less and less focused on the requirements of dancers, particularly after 1950). Troilo led the integration of the singer as a strand in the musical texture, and Francisco Fiorentino was perfect for that role.

  • Yo soy el tango (4-Mar-1941)
  • Te aconsejo que me olvides (16-Apr-1941)
  • Toda mi vida (4-Mar-1941)
  • Tinta roja (23-Oct-1941)

Troilo (Instrumental) 1941

The instrumental recordings are a showcase for the Troilo orchestra. The orchestra typically creates a ‘big’ sound – sounding as though there were many more players than there actually were – and the recording technology of the day was frequently challenged by the results.

  • Milongueando en el cuarenta (17-Jun-1941)
  • Cordón de oro (18-Jul-1941)
  • Cachirulo (4-Mar-1941)
  • Guapeando (11-Jul-1941)

Troilo (Fiorentino) 1941 (Milonga)

Francisco Fiorentino
Francisco Fiorentino

Troilo recorded very few early valses and there is only one from 1941 (Tu diagnóstico) but there were several fine milongas. It’s worth listening to Mano brava all the way through, concentrating exclusively on the brilliant piano-playing of Orlando Goñi. It was said that Troilo’s arrangers didn’t bother to provide a piano part, as Goñi would just improvise something better, anyway.

  • Mano brava (4-Mar-1941)
  • Con toda la voz que tengo (16-Apr-1941)
  • Del tiempo guapo (21-Nov-1941)

Click here for ‘Tango in 1940’.

Click here for ‘Tango in 1942’.