Playlist: 28 May 2016 (Lutterworth)

Genre Song Year Artist(s)
Tango Viejo ciego 1928 Francisco Canaro (Charlo)
Azulidad 1929
Bailarín compadrito 1929
Cuando llora el corazón 1929
– 8:00pm start –
Tango Hotel Victoria 1935 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Joaquina 1935
Sábado inglés 1935
Re Fa Si 1935
Tango Son cosas del bandoneón 1939 Enrique Rodríguez (Roberto Flores)
Dejame ser así 1938
Te quiero ver escopeta 1939
Si no me engaña el corazón 1939
Vals Noche de estrellas 1939 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá)
Tormenta en el alma 1940 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá & Mirna Mores)
El vals del estudiante 1936 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá)
Tango Cascabelito 1941 Carlos Di Sarli (Roberto Rufino)
Mañana zarpa un barco 1942
Tristeza marina 1943
Griseta 1941
Tango Tinta verde 1938 Aníbal Troilo (Instrumental)
Comme il faut 1938
Cachirulo 1941
Milongueando en el cuarenta 1941
Milonga El porteñito 1943 Ángel D’Agostino (Ángel Vargas)
Así me gusta a mí 1942
Entre copa y copa 1942
Tango Nada más que un corazón 1944 Pedro Laurenz (Carlos Bermúdez)
La madrugada 1944
Me están sobrando las penas 1944
Más solo que nunca 1944
Tango Cordobesita 1933 Osvaldo Fresedo (Roberto Ray)
El mareo 1933
En la huella del dolor 1934
Araca la cana 1933
Vals Dos que se aman 1948 Osvaldo Pugliese (Alberto Morán)
Manos adoradas 1952
Ilusión marina 1947
Tango Don Juan 1932 Orquesta Típica Victor (dir. Carabelli) (Alberto Gómez)
Mi refugio 1931 Adolfo Carabelli (Alberto Gómez)
Ventarrón 1933 Orquesta Típica Victor (dir. Carabelli) (Alberto Gómez)
Inspiración 1932 Adolfo Carabelli (Alberto Gómez)
Tango Nueve de julio 1935 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
El flete 1936
Lorenzo 1936
Retintín 1936
Milonga Sacale punta 1938 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos & Randona)
De punta a punta 1939 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos)
Ella es así 1938
Tango Solamente ella 1944 Lucio Demare (Horacio Quintana)
El aguacero 1944
Oriente 1944
Torrente 1944
Tango La maleva 1939 Rodolfo Biagi (Instrumental)
El rápido 1939
La marca de fuego 1940
El entrerriano 1941
Vals Soñar y nada más 1944 Alfredo De Angelis (Carlos Dante & Julio Martel)
Pobre flor (Primera ilusión) 1946
Flores del alma 1947
Tango Recuerdo malevo 1941 Ricardo Tanturi (Alberto Castillo)
Noches de Colón 1941
Pocas palabras 1941
Así se baila el tango 1942
Tango Al compás del corazón 1942 Miguel Caló (Raúl Berón)
Trasnochando 1942
En tus ojos de cielo 1944
Que te importa que te llore 1942
Milonga La puñalada 1937 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Milonga, vieja milonga 1937
El esquinazo 1938
Tango Milonguero viejo 1951 Carlos Di Sarli (Instrumental)
Como los nardos en flor 1951
La cachila 1952
El ingeniero 1952
Tango La cumparsita 1936 Francisco Lomuto (Instrumental)
Piazzolla: Oblivion | Montreal Symphony Orchestra | Charles Dutoit

Tango 250: Carlos Di Sarli

About Carlos Di Sarli

Carlos Di Sarli
Carlos Di Sarli

Di Sarli was born in 1903 in Bahia Blanca and died in 1960 in Buenos Aires. He formed a tango sextet in 1928 which recorded for Victor between 1928 and 1931. His first tango orchestra also recorded for Victor between 1939 and 1948, for Music Hall between 1951 and 1953, and again for Victor between 1954 and 1958. He recorded a single LP for Philips in 1958 before illness forced his retirement.

Tango 500 Book
Tango 500: the book.

He was the second oldest of the ‘Big Four’ orchestra leaders and his early sextet belongs to the guardia vieja. He directed his orchestra from the piano and had previously played in several ensembles, including the orchestra of Osvaldo Fresedo.

Di Sarli worked with several leading singers, and the most important in his early and middle periods were Roberto Rufino (1939-48), Alberto Podestá (1942, 1944 & 1947) and Jorge Durán (1945-47). In his late period (the 50s) he worked mainly with Mario Pomar (1951-55), Oscar Serpa (1952-55) and Roberto Florio (1956-57).

The suggested Tango 250 collection features tandas with Rufino, Podestá and Durán, along with instrumental tandas from his early, middle and late periods.

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1939-40

The earliest recordings of his orchestra are mostly fast-paced, and this instrumental tanda is typical of his early style.

  • El jaguar (5-Aug-40)
  • Racing Club (4-Jul-40)
  • El retirao (11-Dec-39)
  • Shusheta (8-Oct-40)

Di Sarli (Rufino) 1941-43

Di Sarli’s first (and probably most important) singer was baritone, Roberto Rufino. This tanda comes from his middle period, when the pace has slowed (compared with his early recordings) and the music begins to sound more lyrical (although it never loses its rhythmic edge).

  • Cascabelito (6-Jun-41)
  • Mañana zarpa un barco (14-Aug-42)
  • Tristeza marina (7-Sep-43)
  • Griseta (21-Jun-41)

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1941-45

These instrumentals cover a four-year period in which the distinctive Di Sarli sound finds its full expression for the first time. The musical textures are often quite sparse: the violin section of the orchestra grew in size over the years, but here, it is still quite small. So while this is essentially the same sound and style of the late instrumentals, the musical textures appear thinner.

  • Ensueños (7-Sep-43)
  • El paladín (11-Dec-41)
  • Ojos negros (5-Jul-45)
  • Cuidao con los cincuenta (23-Jun-42)

Di Sarli (Podestá) 1942-44

Podestá joined the orchestra in 1942 but only stayed for a year. He returned in 1944 after the departure of Rufino, by which time his still young voice had matured, and the sophistication of his delivery is perhaps at its absolute peak.

  • Junto a tu corazón (3-Jun-42)
  • Al compás del corazón (9-Apr-1942)
  • La capilla blanca (11-Jul-44)
  • Nada (13-Apr-44)

Di Sarli (Durán) 1945

Between Jan-45 and Jan-47 Durán was Di Sarli’s only singer. He had a darker-sounding baritone voice than either Rufino or Podestá. The history of Di Sarli’s musical development was one of slow, incremental change – from the early rhythmical fast-paced recordings to the much slower late recordings (1954 onwards), where the melody is to the fore.  These songs lie about mid-way, both in terms of time and style. Durán’s vocal contribution never dominates the musical texture – for example, you can always hear Di Sarli at the piano over the voice – a perfect synthesis of voice with orchestra.

  • Solamente ella (8-Mar-45)
  • Tu íntimo secreto (30-Oct-45)
  • Porteño y bailarín (20-Feb-45)
  • Tus labios me dirán (8-Mar-45)

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1951-52

Di Sarli took a complete break from recording after Jun-48, not returning to the studio until Nov-51. The recordings for Music Hall made between 1951-53 mark the transition from the early/mature style, before the late recordings of 1954-58. The string section has grown and the pace has slowed. He was to record much of this repertoire again, later, but for all that his return to Victor and the introduction of tape mastering gave us better sound quality after 1954, these recordings represent the peak of Di Sarli’s musical powers.

  • Milonguero viejo (Nov-51)
  • Como los nardos en flor (Nov-51)
  • La cachila (Feb-52)
  • El ingeniero (Feb-52)

Di Sarli (Rufino) 1940-41 (Vals)

These joyful valses belong to a slightly earlier period when the predominant style of the orchestra was faster-paced.

  • Rosamel (11-Dec-40)
  • Alma mía (15-Feb-40)
  • Cortando camino (6-Mar-41)

Di Sarli (Rufino) 1941 (Milonga)

These recordings date from near the start of Di Sarli’s long career. They are medium-paced but full of rhythmic vitality.

  • La mulateada (20-Nov-41)
  • Pena mulata (18-Feb-41)
  • Zorzal (3-Dec-41)

Further reading

Click here for a further extended article on Carlos Di Sarli – El señor del tango, with lots of additional listening links.


Introducing Tango 250

How big does a DJ’s music library need to be to provide good music for social dancing?

Assuming that we are talking about tango dance music (including tango, vals and milonga) from roughly the late 1920s to the mid-1950s, the periods known as the guardia vieja and epoca de oro (the old guard and the golden age), then which orchestras are the most important / most heard? Are some more important than others? Which singers? Which songs?

I got to thinking about how someone might start to build a personal music library with a view to acting as a tango DJ now and again (or just for personal enjoyment or study). For many years, the dominant music carrier format has been the compact disc, and the obvious thing to do used to be to buy some CDs – but which ones? Discs are typically quite broad in their range of content, but you might be wanting four well-matched songs from a particular orchestra & singer, all recorded in a narrow time period. You soon find that you have to buy quite a few discs to collect the music you want, or alternatively, that the range of music you can play is constrained by the content of your small collection.

But increasingly CDs are disappearing from the scene (I haven’t bought one for several years) and we are turning to downloading music from online music stores like iTunes or Amazon instead. Sometimes, the quality to be found is the best available, but typically, the bitrate of the files is well-below the standard of a CD, although there are specialist suppliers who supply tango music in better fidelity. The big advantage of buying music downloads is that you can select just the songs you want, and not have to buy twenty to get the eight you can use.

So, if you were starting from scratch, and wanted to build a basic library that would provide material for putting songs together in tandas (groups of three or four songs, usually by the same orchestra and sharing a style or mood), what would you buy? Think of a typical dance event: a milonga or tea dance lasting around four hours. Most DJs play tango tandas with four songs, and vals and milonga tandas with three songs, and they are combined in groups in the order TTVTTM, with each cycle lasting just over an hour. Each cycle requires sixteen tangos, three valses and three milongas. If the event has, say, four TTVTTM cycles, then the absolute minimum requirement will be for 64 tangos, 12 each of valses and milongas – 88 in all. Round things up, a bit, and you might be able to make a start with a library of as few as 100 songs, as long as they were carefully chosen.

If you were going to DJ as a one-off, that ‘starter collection’ would be fine; but what about your next event, and the one after that? So I thought about defining a starter collection that would provide opportunities to combine songs in different ways and enable a DJ to play for several (probably lots) of events without the dancers getting fed up by the frequency with which any particular song was being heard. Two hundred and fifty songs seemed like a good number. It would allow a good range of orchestras / singers / periods but still be a ‘small’ collection. Later, the library could easily be extended, but for now, what should go in it?

The answer is that there is no obvious or right answer: it is a matter of judgement or taste. Some DJs delight in playing unknown music that they have ‘discovered’ (let’s call them ‘hidden gems’), and others play ‘greatest hits’ all night. In between those two extremes is a quite large repertoire of what could be termed ‘mainstream’ music that will be at least familiar to the majority of discerning dancers. In a small collection, there really isn’t room for much lesser-known repertoire, and every song has to earn its place.

Many would agree that some orchestras are more significant or important than others. Many (not all) would recognise that the orchestras of Juan D’Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli, Aníbal Troilo and Osvaldo Pugliese are in the top league. Each produced extensive catalogues of recordings of the very highest quality for dancing and worked with some of the finest singers of their time. After them, a second group of orchestras also produced music of very high quality, and are very frequently heard at tango dance events everywhere. Here’s a suggested list, but there is room for the odd addition or substitution – it’s a matter of judgment and taste, after all: Biagi, Caló, Canaro, D’Agostino, De Angelis, Demare, Donato, Fresedo, Laurenz, Lomuto, Orquesta Típica Victor, Rodríguez and Tanturi.

Out of 250 songs, I am looking for a balanced collection; and an obvious thing to get right is the ratio of tango, vals and milonga songs in order to be able to compile cycles of tandas. A bit of simple arithmetic (and some rounding) gives me a target of 45 tango tandas (180 songs) and 23 tandas divided between vals and milonga (69 songs). That’s 249, so there’s room for a recording of La Cumparsita.

Looking at the tango repertoire first (different orchestras had different strengths, and the vals and milonga balance might be different), I decided that the ‘Big Four’ (D’Arienzo, Di Sarli, Troilo & Pugliese) should get significant representation, even in a small collection, and I decided to allocate 45% of the total between them: 20 tandas (80 songs). It would be very easy just to allocate each orchestra 5 tandas, but I believe that D’Arienzo and Di Sarli are more important / more regularly played than the other two, so I have allocated them 6 tandas each, and then 5 to Troilo and 3 to Pugliese.

I have 25 tandas remaining, and have allocated two each to the other orchestras, except Lomuto, who gets one + La Cumparsita.

With a much smaller number of vals and milonga tandas, not every orchestra is represented in each genre, but a minority (for whom vals or milonga was a particular strength) appear more than once.

So that’s the scope of the ‘Tango 250’ collection and the next article in this series will introduce the first eight songs arranged in two tango tandas.

But here’s that 250th song: Lomuto’s 1936 La Cumparsita. A wonderful well-paced arrangement opening with pizzicato strings and followed  by virtuoso playing from the bandoneons. A fitting end to any milonga.