Tango in 1950-51

With the new decade, a sleeping giant (D’Arienzo) reawakened. Along with a supporting cast of newer B-list orchestras, it also brought the final recordings of the old master, Lomuto. The start of the 50s offered a musical landscape almost unrecognisable from a decade before.

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1950

Juan D'Arienzo
Juan D’Arienzo

I’m not much drawn to Juan D’Arienzo’s output from the 40s, but from 1950 the orchestra seemed to find a new vigour. Most of his best recordings were instrumental, and the 40s had been a decade dominated by the orchestral singers. Victor seemed to struggle to match the sound quality of Odeon too (a great shame, given that three of the ‘big four’ orchestras: D’Arienzo, Di Sarli and Troilo all recorded for Victor). However, compared with the muddy sound quality of the 1940 recording, the 1950 recording of Canaro en París almost sparkles.

  • Canaro en París (5-May-1950)
  • Tucumán (28-Sep-1950)
  • El simpático (19-Dec-1951)
  • Don Juan (28-Dec-1950)

Gobbi (Instrumental) 1952

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Alfredo Gobbi was known as El violín romántico del tango, which was probably more to do with marketing than any musical considerations. Many of the leaders of the newer orchestras (who had previously played as principals in the orchestras of the first rank) rather favoured their own instrument in their arrangements. If popular singers could ‘go solo’ to win fame, why not them? The romantic violin title would have fitted Enrique Francini (ex Caló) far better anyway, for it is the bandoneóns and piano that predominate in Gobbi’s sound.

The biggest influence on Gobbi’s musical style was surely Pugliese. Play the opening bars of either El andariego or Pelele and nine out of ten dancers would assume they were hearing Pugliese; and yet, his style is distinctive even if ultimately derivative. Both pieces feature violin solos (more prominent and extended in Pelele), so perhaps the label isn’t so far from the truth, after all.

  • Nueve puntos (3-Apr-1952)
  • El andariego (27-Jun-1951)
  • Pelele (18-Apr-1950)
  • La catrera (26-Apr-1951)

Lomuto (Montero) 1949-50

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Francisco Lomuto had been hugely popular in the 30s (in particular) but he failed to adapt to the changed musical sensibilities of the 40s and rather faded away; although he recorded (but at a much-reduced rate) until 1946. Then, he reappeared in the recording studio for a series of ten last sides, beginning in October 1949. The old style had gone and in its place, we have a slightly strange amalgam of styles – pastiche, really – blending mostly lyrical and romantic elements in a way which is actually quite pleasing. Had he been a younger man, and had this come along several years earlier, he would have had a modest success with it, but it was not to be: Tarde was recorded at his very last session, and two months later, he was dead.

  • Muñequita (6-Oct-1949)
  • Tarde (27-Oct-1950)
  • Triste comedia (6-Jun-1950)
  • Una pena (2-Nov-1949)

Pedevilla (Instrumental) 1950

Ricardo Pedevilla
Ricardo Pedevilla

Until very recently, it was difficult to find more than a handful of Ricardo Pedevilla’s recordings (there are twenty-four sides). A few were included in the Reliquias CD series Orquestas Olvidadas (forgotten orchestras), but more recently, a download album of the complete recordings has appeared (but in very variable sound quality). These four transfers come from it (although I play the Reliquias ones, which are much better), but the album is well worth exploring. Almost no one has heard of Pedevilla, and at first hearing, you will assume that it is late Di Sarli – except that within a few seconds, you’ll not be so sure. He was a bandoneónist and had played in the orchestras of Malerba and Biagi – so he was definitely schooled in the rhythmic style – but Di Sarli is the strongest element in the mix.

  • El amanecer (28-Nov-1950)
  • El pollo (3-Nov-1950)
  • Organito de la tarde (21-Nov-1950)
  • Siete palabras (5-Dec-1951)

Varela (Instrumental) 1952

Hector Varela
Hector Varela

In theory, Varela only formed his orchestra in 1950. It was to record for the next twenty-five years, but in fact, he had formed an orchestra a decade before. At the peak of his own popularity, D’Arienzo lost every single player in his own band when his pianist (Polito) split to form his own orchestra. D’Arienzo needed a new band – and quick! The solution was that he approached Varela, who decided that his interests would best served by going in with D’Arienzo, who promptly swallowed the new orchestra whole, Varela included.

The style clues are there for all to hear, but Varela, while firmly of the rhythmic school, had his own voice (once he found an outlet for it). These four songs are all repertoire from an earlier time – and a comparing the D’Arienzo 1950 recording of Canaro en París (above) is very interesting.

  • Canaro en París (9-Jun-1952)
  • Champagne tango (19-Sep-1952)
  • El flete (4-Dec-1950)
  • Sábado inglés (17-Jul-1951)


Click here for ‘Tango in 1948-49’.

Click here for ‘Tango in 1952-53’.