Tango in 1943

Being marooned on a desert island with the tango music of 1943 and a wind up gramophone would be just fine by me. The popularity of tango provided the opportunity for dozens of orchestras of a really high standard to be producing a steady stream of recordings – a mixture of older, standard repertoire, and newly-written songs. Three quarters of a century later, the music of this period (in reality, a spread of a few years at the centre of the Golden Age) still draws dancers to tango all over the world. More and more social dancers are coming to the realisation that this treasury will never be matched, let alone bettered.

Caló (Ortiz) 1943

Miguel Caló
Miguel Caló

Jorge Ortiz took a break from singing with Biagi in 1943 and spent six months with Caló (replacing Raul Berón). The partnership was a mixed success and short-lived, but the quality of the music isn’t in doubt, even though there are only seven recordings.

  • Barrio de tango (19-Jan-1943)
  • Pa’ que seguir (19-Jan-1943)
  • De barro (17-May-1943)
  • Mi cantar (21-May-1943)

De barro isn’t available on Spotify, but you can listen to it here, instead:

Canaro (Roldán) 1942-43 (Milonga Candombe)

Francisco Canaro

Canaro recorded a higher proportion of good milongas and valses than most orchestras. However, his importance and influence had been on the wane for several years by 1943, but these songs are still wonderful. Candombe is a dance and music from Uruguay and it probably originated with African slaves. Milonga candombe is a hybrid form (originally credited to Sebastián Piana) combining elements of both genres, sometimes danced as an alternative to milonga (and arguably better-suited to that purpose than fox trot).

  • La rumbita candombé (16-Jul-1943)
  • Candombe criollo (20-Jan-1942)
  • Candombe (12-May-1943)

If you’re ever feeling a bit down, watch this joyful clip from the 1951 film Con la música en el alma featuring Canaro conducting Candombe. The dancing is wonderful, but probably in a style not appropriate for your local milonga.

D’Arienzo (Mauré) 1942-44

Juan D'Arienzo
Juan D’Arienzo

I’m not generally a fan of D’Arienzo’s 40s recordings, but his version of Uno is a masterpiece. I can’t improve on Michael Lavocah’s description of this version as being

… perhaps the greatest ever recorded. The music swells and tumbles in great tides in a most un-D’Arienzo like manner.

  • Uno (23-Nov-1943)
  • Claudinette (12-Aug-1942)
  • Enamorado (Metido) (23-Jun-1943)
  • Amarras (21-Jul-1944)

The tension of the clash between Mauré’s lyricism and D’Arienzo’s hard-driven rhythms led to Mauré’s inevitable departure in 1944 and the return of Alberto Echagüe.

Demare (Berón) 1943

Lucio Demare
Lucio Demare

Berón spent 1943 with Demare’s orchestra and while the partnership produced several fine recordings that remain popular with dancers today, the lush strings of the orchestra nearly overwhelm the crooner, Berón, more than once.

  • Una emoción (3-Sep-1943)
  • Oigo tu voz (25-Nov-1943)
  • Mi vieja ribera (13-Oct-1943)
  • Palomita mía (3-Sep-1943)

Di Sarli (Rufino) 1943

Carlos Di Sarli
Carlos Di Sarli

Some orchestras seem buffeted around by the winds of change and fashion, but Di Sarli stands as a bulwark against fads and external influences. The partnership with Rufino produced a steady stream of sophisticated and urbane recordings that are and will remain wonderful for dancing. It’s rare to see a good dancer sit out a Di Sarli tanda.

  • Verdemar (7-Oct-1943)
  • Adiós, te vas (17-Mar-1943)
  • Esta noche de luna (17-Dec-1943)
  • Canta, pajarito (17-Mar-1943)

Laurenz (Podestá) 1943

Pedro Laurenz
Pedro Laurenz

Alberto Podestá sang with Pedro Laurenz in 1943, between two spells with Di Sarli (and there was a third, in 1947). Had Laurenz been more commercially minded, his orchestra might have challenged the leading orchestras. Like Di Sarli, much of his music is lyrical, in character, but the two orchestras are otherwise polar opposites. Strangely, the voice of Podestá fits both, perfectly.

  • Recién (22-Sep-1943)
  • Yo quiero cantar un tango (16-Nov-1943)
  • Que nunca me falte (22-Sep-1943)
  • Garúa (6-Aug-1943)

Tanturi (Campos) 1943

Ricardo Tanturi
Ricardo Tanturi

Castillo left Tanturi’s orchestra in May 1943, with Tanturi taking the opportunity to make two big changes: enlarging what had been just a sextet (a move that some other orchestras had made years before) and following the trend to recording slower-paced, even contemplative, repertoire. Enrique Campos was the singer who would present this new style, and while the orchestra would retain its rhythmic foundation, his lyricism smoothed away some of the rougher edges which had been such a feature of the singing of Castillo.

Three of the songs in this tanda also feature in the Demare tanda (above). Do take a minute or two to compare the alternate versions. They are closer in feel than you might expect, given the very different styles of the two orchestras.

  • Una emoción (17-Nov-1943)
  • Muchachos comienza la ronda (6-Aug-1943)
  • Palomita mía (19-Aug-1943)
  • Oigo tu voz (17-Nov-1943)

Troilo (Fiorentino) 1942-43

Aníbal Troilo
Aníbal Troilo

Troilo was the great musical innovator of the early 40s. He was the master of integrating the singer into the orchestra in place of the more minor role of estribilista (chorus singer). He also took a lead in the music’s slow down – making space in the musical textures for a wider range of moods and sophistication. Many DJs stick to his upbeat 1941 ‘hits’ (and they are very good), but slowly, the later recordings are becoming better-known and appreciated. It’s not as though he became avant-garde or that his music was no longer suitable for dancers (at least, not until the early-mid 50s), but his music does make greater demands on dancers – but with commensurate rewards.

Compare this version of Garúa with that from Laurenz with Podesta (above). The two orchestras belong to the same style family, and the comparisons rest with the subtle differences in the arrangements and the vocal treatment of the lyric by the two singers.

  • Margarita Gauthier (11-Mar-1943)
  • Cada vez que me recuerdes (5-Apr-1943)
  • Gricel (30-Oct-1942)
  • Garúa (4-Aug-1943)

The sound of all these transfers is poor (and perhaps that partly explains why Troilo of this period is not as popular as it should be). Here are very brief excerpts from my own library (original transfers by TangoTunes with some modest reprocessing of my own):

Click here for ‘Tango in 1942’.

Click here for ‘Tango in 1944’.