Tango in 1956-57

The political climate that followed the coup of 1955 had a profound effect on tango, beginning a steady decline that was only reversed after the return to democracy in 1983. The top orchestras remained active, at least in the recording studio, but many others folded, and what remained was increasingly for listening rather than dancing. The Golden Age was over.

D’Arienzo (Laborde) 1954-56 (Vals)

Juan D'Arienzo
Juan D’Arienzo

Armando Laborde recorded with D’Arienzo from the end of 1944 until 1957 (and for an extended second spell from the mid-60s). Much of this repertoire is undistinguished, but these valses are well-worth hearing and typical of the mid-50s D’Arienzo style.

    • La sonrisa de mamá (1-Sep-1954)
    • Lloré por los dos (20-Sep-1956)
    • Me quieres y te quiero (17-May-1956)

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1956-57

Carlos Di Sarli
Carlos Di Sarli

These instrumentals were among Di Sarli’s last recordings. The pace is slow, the style expansive, with the orchestra producing a sound dominated by violins and the piano. Many dancers love these late recordings for their emotional intensity and the way in which Di Sarli manages to combine lyrical and rhythmic elements in the music – the culmination of three decades of steady musical development.

  • Bahía Blanca (21-Nov-1957)
  • Nueve puntos (7-Mar-1956)
  • Cara sucia (12-Jul-1957)
  • Viviani (19-Dec-1956)

Di Sarli (Florio) 1956-58

Tenor, Roberto Florio, was the last of the great singers to work regularly with Di Sarli, singing alongside Jorge Durán, who had previously worked with the orchestra in the mid-40s. The ‘late’ recordings (from 1956 onwards) were mostly vocals, but in truth, I find the instrumentals (although few in number) more satisfying. Adiós, corazón was the last of Florio’s recordings with Di Sarli.

  • Derrotado (27-Sep-1956)
  • Soñemos (25-Apr-1957)
  • Nuestra noche (24-May-1957)
  • Adiós, corazón (16-Jan-1958)

Pugliese (Maciel) 1954-56

Osvaldo Pugliese
Osvaldo Pugliese

Jorge Maciel joined Pugliese’s orchestra in 1954, replacing Alberto Morán. He had been poached from the orchestra of Alfredo Gobbi, with whom he had already recorded Remembranza and Canzoneta. It was a successful partnership, but I’m not sure that the music is very good for social dancing (although this repertoire is regularly chosen for performances). If you like it, you probably love it, but I can’t hear the last bars of Canzoneta and not snigger a bit.

  • Remembranza (4-Jul-1956)
  • No juegues a la guerra (31-Jan-1956)
  • Canzoneta (29-Oct-1954)
  • Cascabelito (22-Sep-1955)

Quinteto Pirincho (Instrumental) 1957-59

Francisco Canaro

Francisco Canaro was never one to miss an opportunity to make money. At the height of the popularity of D’Arienzo’s orchestra in the late 30s, Canaro formed a quintet (initially called Quinteto Don Pancho) to play music in the guardia vieja style that D’Arienzo had reinvigorated. It recorded, on and off, throughout the rest of the 30s and 40s (having changed name to Quinteto Pirincho early on) but it recorded more regularly throughout the 50s. The recordings feature a fairly conservative repertoire of tango standards in straightforward arrangements and with good sound. I don’t enjoy Canaro’s orchestral recordings after the end of the 30s much, but the Quintet recordings have a different feel, even if a little goes a long way.

  • Mala junta  (2-Sep-1957)
  • Zorro gris (31-Jan-1957)
  • El pollito (22-Apr-1959)
  • Derecho viejo (24-Apr-1956)

Click here for ‘Tango in 1954-55’.

Click here for ‘Tango in 1958-59’.

DJ Clive Harrison
DJ Clive Harrison

Barrio de tango is the tango blog and online home of tango DJ, Clive Harrison, based in the English Midlands. Now retired from teaching and hosting dance events, Clive remains available to DJ, playing exclusively traditional tango music from the great tango orchestras.

Tango in 1954-55

The advent of tape mastering (and the gradual substitution of vinyl for shellac) produced a major leap forward in sound quality in the mid-50s. D’Arienzo and Di Sarli were both very active in the recording studio and this period saw the beginning of Di Sarli’s ‘late’ recordings (having returned to Victor) –  a wonderful Indian summer, tragically cut short by illness.

Cupo (Morán) 1955 (Vals)

Armando Cupo
Armando Cupo

Armando Cupo, a pianist, had played with Rodriguez and Sassonne before forming an orchestra in 1952 to record a dozen sides with Roberto Rufino. In 1954, the orchestra was revived as a backing group for Alberto Morán, who had left Pugliese to go solo, and this partnership produced 46 sides over five years before being revived in 1968 and 1970 for two final LPs.

I can’t find versions of these valses on Spotify, so have provided links to versions on YouTube, instead.

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1954

Juan D'Arienzo
Juan D’Arienzo

D’Arienzo produced a series of sparking recordings in the mid-50s. The rhythms are a little hard-driven, but the sound quality is very good. The vocals are mostly forgettable but the instrumentals are great for dancing. I only found one of these songs on Spotify, so have again provided listening links from YouTube, instead.

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1954

Carlos Di Sarli
Carlos Di Sarli

Di Sarli’s return to Victor (with their improved recording technology) after three years with Music Hall marked the beginning of his final period of recordings. Really, his career splits into four distinct phases: the early years (1929-31) with a sextet; his early orchestra recordings (1939-48); the years of transition (1951-53) and then the late orchestra recordings (1954-58). The pace of these later recordings is mostly slower than before and the sound more expansive. Of the ‘big four’ leading orchestras, only Di Sarli didn’t live into the stereo era, but the mono sound produced by Victor from the mid-50s still sounds very fresh, even today.

  • A la gran muñeca (30-Jun-1954)
  • El choclo (30-Jun-1954)
  • Don José María (8-Sep-1954)
  • Tinta verde (14-Sep-1954)

The only transfer of Tinta verde I can find on Spotify is derived from a noisy LP rather than the master tapes, but here is an extract from a version with rather better sound:

Di Sarli (Instrumental) 1954-56

  • Comme il faut (15-Jul-1955)
  • El once (16-Nov-1954)
  • Rodríguez Peña (23-Feb-1956)
  • Don Juan (31-Jan-1955)

Di Sarli (Serpa) 1955

There is a wonderful tenderness in the quality of Serpa’s singing, here. Each song is very fine but this version of Noche de locura is special. Di Sarli recorded it, again, in 1956 with Rodolfo Galé, but while Galé’s delivers the lyric with an almost magisterial tone, he doesn’t fathom the emotional depth of Serpa’s interpretation.

  • Verdemar (16-Sep-1955)
  • Sin ella (2-Feb-1955)
  • Noche de locura (21-Jan-1955)
  • Pato alegre (28-Jul-1955)

The 1955 recording of Verdemar was Di Sarli’s third. The first was in 1943 with Roberto Rufino. Ten years later, he recorded it with Oscar Serpa, and while the sound quality isn’t as good as the later 1955 version (Serpa, again), the 1953 performance is probably the best of the three. Here’s a short excerpt from the singer’s entry:

Donato (Instrumental) 1952-54

Edgardo Donato
Edgardo Donato

Edgardo Donato had been missing from the recording studio for five years when he began recording, again, in 1950 – this time for Pampa. El huracán was the first side to appear (a vocal version with Carlos Almada), and he recorded it again, but as an instrumental, in 1952. I haven’t found a version of that recording online, so here’s a decent-length excerpt from the TangoTunes LP transfer, which sounds very well:

  • El huracán (4-Nov-1952)
  • Sábado inglés (25-Jul-1953)
  • El pollito (10-Jun-1954)
  • Fuegos artificiales (17-Dec-1954)

Click here for ‘Tango in 1952-53’.

Click here for ‘Tango in 1956-57’.

DJ Clive Harrison
DJ Clive Harrison

Barrio de tango is the tango blog and online home of tango DJ, Clive Harrison, based in the English Midlands. Now retired from teaching and hosting dance events, Clive remains available to DJ, playing exclusively traditional tango music from the great tango orchestras.

Three Counties Tango | Milonga

DJ Clive Harrison
DJ Clive Harrison

I’ll be the DJ, once again, at the Milonga at Redmarley Village Hall, The Causeway, Redmarley D’Abitot, GL19 3HS (organised by Three Counties Tango) on Saturday, 13 January 2018 (7:30pm – 11:30pm). Entrada £10.

I play exclusively traditional music, recorded by the great tango dance orchestras and singers of the Golden Age. I always try to maintain a balance of styles, periods and moods: great music that keeps discerning dancers wanting to return to the floor, tanda after tanda.

I am very proud of my tango music library, devoting much time to seeking out the best-sounding transfers currently available; but I go further, and have remastered most of my library, to reduce or eliminate the background clicks and crackle inevitably associated with vintage recordings. The music of tango is wonderful and dancers deserve to hear it at its best.

Redmarley Village Hall
Redmarley Village Hall

Redmarley Village Hall is an attractive venue, just a few minutes’ drive (2 miles) from junction 2 of the M50 (with the A419 Ledbury Road). There’s plenty of parking.

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Tango in 1952-53

The transition from the 40s to the 50s represented a significant upheaval for several orchestras, but now, they seem to have settled into a new groove. It is currently fashionable to prefer the music of the 30s to the 50s, but there is great music here and fashion is fickle and ever-changing.

D’Arienzo (Instrumental) 1952-53

Juan D'Arienzo
Juan D’Arienzo

Joaquina had been one of the orchestra’s first recordings, back in 1935. A second version came in 1943 and now, ten years on, a third. D’Arienzo regularly re-recorded his repertoire, as technical innovations allowed better sound, or just to revive an earlier hit. El pollo Ricardo had its first recording by D’Arienzo in 1947, and Independencia in 1942. Only El puntazo was receiving its debut recording – and he never returned to it, nor was it taken up by any other orchestra.

  • Joaquina (28-Dec-1953)
  • El puntazo (13-Aug-1952)
  • El pollo Ricardo (12-Nov-1952)
  • Independencia (28-Nov-1953)

De Caro (Instrumental) 1952-53

Julio De Caro
Julio De Caro

Although hugely influential in the development of tango music, Julio De Caro had fallen deeply out of fashion. He had recorded nothing since 1944 and had effectively, retired. Interest in his style was kept alive through the efforts of champions such as Pugliese, and he made a limited comeback from 1949, initially recording with Odeón, and from 1952 with Pathé. These recordings all come from those final sessions: an old master showing the young guns how it was meant to go.

  • Flores negras (17-May-1952)
  • Recuerdo (17-May-1952)
  • Derecho viejo (5-May-1953)
  • Maipo (10-Apr-1953)

Di Sarli (Pomar) 1953-54

Carlos Di Sarli
Carlos Di Sarli

After an absence of nearly three years, Carlos Di Sarli returned to the recording studio in 1951 to record with a new label, Music Hall. There are eighty-four recordings, made between 1951 and 1954, and they are among the earliest of releases to have been first issued on vinyl, rather than shellac. It is not unusual to find people who consider these recordings to be the pinnacle of Di Sarli’s work and they are certainly very fine.

Oscar Serpa had already recorded one side with Di Sarli in 1948 (La novia del mar) and now he was to record regularly, alongside Mario Pomar, until September 1955. Di Sarli recorded new versions of much of his earlier repertoire in this period (and the detailed comparisons are fascinating), and also, as he entered the final phase of his career with Victor, he recorded many of these songs again (in wonderfully good sound).

Until recently, much of this repertoire was not available in very good fidelity, but the TangoTunes complete edition has remedied that, and these recordings are at last becoming better known.

  • Porteño y bailarín (1953)
  • Patotero sentimental (1954)
  • La capilla blanca (1953)
  • Duelo criollo (1953)

Di Sarli (Serpa) 1953-54

  • Al compás del corazón (1953)
  • La canción más triste (1954)
  • Buenos Aires, yo te canto (1954)
  • Verdemar (1954) *

*The 1953 recording of Verdemar (for Music Hall) doesn’t appear to be available on Spotify, so I have included the 1955 version (for Victor). That was also to be Serpa’s last recording with Di Sarli. The 1953 version is very fine, and I’ve also included a separate link to a version of it from YouTube. As always, it is interesting to compare the two, but of course, the tape-mastered sound quality of the later version takes some beating.

Pugliese (Morán) 1947-52 (Vals)

Osvaldo Pugliese
Osvaldo Pugliese

These valses deserve to be better-known and they are not ‘difficult’ in the way that some of Pugliese’s other work from this period is perceived to be; although dancers need to keep their wits about them with the unusual rhythmic accenting in Manos adoradas.

  • Dos que se aman (15-Sep-1948)
  • Manos adoradas (18-Nov-1952)
  • Ilusión marina (28-Jan-1947)

Troilo (Instrumental) 1952-53

Aníbal Troilo
Aníbal Troilo

Both Di Sarli and Troilo ceased recording with Victor in the late 40s. Di Sarli was later to record with Music Hall, while Troilo began recording with TK (another new company) in 1950. There were only two sides in that year, and initially, TK struggled to match the recording quality of the better-established companies. Over time, their recordings improved, but they were never very good, and eventually, Troilo switched to Odeón (but not until mid-1957) and then, later, returned to Victor in the 60s.

Troilo’s best recordings from the 50s are instrumental. The arrangements are more sophisticated than before, and while the sound quality is compromised, many of the recordings capture the rasping tone of the bandoneóns more truthfully than previously. Arrangements like that of Triunfal would have been unthinkable in the 40s (certainly for dancing). Listen for the solo bandoneón and solo cello interplay from 1:48. The bandoneón (presumably Troilo, himself) continues, accompanied by the orchestra from 2:05, before the return of the original theme and a counter-melody from high violins. A brilliant arrangement, and one making previously unheard of demands on dancers.

  • Chiqué (El elegante) (5-Jun-1952)
  • Ojos negros (28-Jul-1953)
  • Triunfal (23-Mar-1953)
  • Quejas de bandoneón (28-Mar-1952)

Varela (Duets) 1952-55 (Vals)

Hector Varela
Hector Varela

The popular vocal partnership of Carlos Dante and Julio Martel with Alfredo De Angelis was never better than in their vals duet recordings (although there are surprisingly few of them). Héctor Varela, too, found that he had singers whose voices blended very well. Rodolfo Lesica features on each of these recordings, alongside Armando Laborde in Patio porteño and Argentino Ledesma for the other two.

  • Trovador mazorquero (29-Mar-1955)
  • Patio porteño (3-Jan-1952)
  • Igual que dos palomas (16-Jun-1953)

Click here for ‘Tango in 1950-51’.

Click here for ‘Tango in 1954-55’.

DJ Clive Harrison
DJ Clive Harrison

Barrio de tango is the tango blog and online home of tango DJ, Clive Harrison, based in the English Midlands. Now retired from teaching and hosting dance events, Clive remains available to DJ, playing exclusively traditional tango music from the great tango orchestras.

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


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 the 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


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 be 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’.

DJ Clive Harrison
DJ Clive Harrison

Barrio de tango is the tango blog and online home of tango DJ, Clive Harrison, based in the English Midlands. Now retired from teaching and hosting dance events, Clive remains available to DJ, playing exclusively traditional tango music from the great tango orchestras.