The mid-40s frequently provides music of great depth, and finds many orchestras at their musical peak, even if there were increasing signs that tango’s popular appeal was beginning to decline in the dance halls of Buenos Aires.
Biagi (Amor) 1946
When Jorge Ortiz left Biagi’s orchestra at the beginning of 1943 (to sing with Caló), his replacement was Alberto Amor. The general slowing down of tango music suited Amor’s voice and while few would describe Biagi’s orchestra as lyrical, the music is certainly far less hard-driven than before. Amor stayed until the very end of 1947.
- Lucienne (10-Jul-1946)
- Pudo ser una vida (18-Jan-1946)
- Adiós, pampa mía (31-Jan-1946)
- Camino del Tucumán (23-May-1946)
Caló (Arrieta) 1946
Roberto Arrieta sang with Caló between August 1945 and September 1948 (alongside Raul Iriarte, at least, until June 1947). These songs are typical of his style: he sings with a somewhat plummy tone and with a wider vibrato than is favoured today. These are recordings that are easy to overlook, and yet well-performed.
In an event of typical duration (four to five hours), a tango DJ is frequently faced with the dilemma of balancing well-known recordings by the leading orchestras and singers along with lesser-known fare. Dancers can tire of ‘greatest hits’ – there’s a limit to how often you can play any song – and yet if there is time for just one Caló tanda, it’s easy for Arrieta to be passed over again and again. Of course, a DJ could deliberately choose to ‘champion’ lesser-known repertoire, but it is hard to find just the right balance, and easy to get it wrong.
- Qué cosas tiene la vida (4-Apr-1946)
- Pudo ser una vida (27-Dec-1945)
- Inútil (3-Dec-1946)
- Qué me van a hablar de amor (8-Mar-1946)
De Angelis (Martel) 1945-46
Alfredo De Angelis had formed his orchestra in 1941 and it began to record two years later. It was very successful, producing nearly five hundred recordings, right up to the late 70s, and yet is little played today. Best-known are the duets between Julio Martel and Carlos Dante (particularly the valses). The music is mostly quite simple and romantic but easily dismissed as lightweight.
Both Dante and Martel recorded separately, with the duets forming only a small part of their repertoire. These songs are typical of their time but the style never changed much. The arrangements are string-led and uncomplicated and they can be just what a milonga needs at a particular moment. Do compare this version of Rosicler with Troilo’s (below).
- Rosicler (7-Nov-1946)
- Melodía gris (11-Jul-1946)
- Acordes porteños (4-May-1945)
- Yo también carrero fui (13-Dec-1946)
Pugliese (Instrumental) 1946
- La yumba (21-Aug-1946)
No consideration of Pugliese’s 1946 recordings could exclude La yumba for it almost defines the orchestra’s style. It is as though almost everything that came before was leading up to it, and everything afterwards was built on its foundation. Pugliese likened the main motif to the sound of heavy machinery; but the overwhelming and emphatic pulse several times melts almost completely (greatly to the consternation of novice dancers, or at least, those of them who have noticed).
Pugliese (Chanel) 1945-46
Pugliese’s music is so powerful and challenging that it always calls for particularly careful presentation at any milonga. But power doesn’t have to be represented by loudness: Sin lágrimas perfectly illustrates how Pugliese fuses the instruments and a voice to convey the emotion of a song and to deliver a lyric, but on a modest scale and with a focus that turns inwards. It’s like looking at a miniature painted by one of the great masters – a distillation of genius. Pugliese’s only serious rival in using voice and orchestra in this way was Troilo – but he tended to paint larger musical canvasses, which have a different dynamic and produce a quite different effect.
- Sin lágrimas (27-May-1946)
- Galleguita (6-Nov-1945)
- Consejo de oro (27-Feb-1946)
- La mascota del barrio (8-Nov-1946)
Troilo (Marino) 1943-46 (Milonga)
Troilo didn’t record many milongas, so this selection is drawn from quite a wide time period, but there is little variation in style, making a cohesive and satisfying group. The habanera rhythm, which is fundamental to milonga music, is rarely stated, directly, but is still never far away. The subtlety of the music lends itself to a variety in interpretation by dancers: some will choose to dance mainly in the milonga lisa (simple style), while others will relish the challenges of dancing milonga con traspié (with double-time steps and weight changes).
- El barrio del tambor (5-Nov-1943)
- Con permiso! (27-Sep1944)
- Con mi perro (14-May-1946)
Troilo (Marino) 1946
Marino’s time with Troilo came to end in 1946 and these were his last four tango recordings with the orchestra. It’s fascinating to compare this version of Rosicler with the recording made by De Angelis with Martel (above). Marino, a tenor, sings at the lower end of his vocal range, producing a rich tone and with a wide range of dynamics, using his powerful voice to produce many colours. The orchestral sound is typical of Troilo: he conjures a complex and big sound from his players. The De Angelis recording has Martel, a baritone, singing in a higher register, and everything about the performance is lighter in weight.
Mi tango triste brought to an end a wonderful musical partnership. Troilo’s other singer, Floreal Ruiz, continued recording with the orchestra until July 1948, but times were changing, and while there were wonderful recordings to come – including those from Marino’s replacement, Edmundo Rivero – this later repertoire is little played for dancing.
- Sin palabras (22-Oct-1946)
- Rosicler (11-Sep-1946)
- Así es Ninón (25-Sep-1946)
- Mi tango triste (28-Nov-1946)
Click here for ‘Tango in 1945’.
Click here for ‘Tango in 1947’.