Uno!

This is the second article in an occasional series about tango songs that have special qualities but which are not heard as often as they deserve.

Uno, with music by Mariano Mores, setting a lyric by Enrique Discépolo, has several things in common with the song featured in the previous article, Discepolin. That song was a tribute to the lyricist of Uno, and two of the leading recordings were by the orchestras of Troilo and Fresedo. Now, with Uno, Troilo and Fresedo feature again, but I also consider several other recordings (and there are many more, besides).

Discépolo’s lyric is superb. It speaks of a man betrayed, fearful of loving again. Derrick Del Pillar’s translation to English is worth knowing.

Empty now from loving and from crying
over so much betrayal!

Most people are likely to choose their preferred version based on the singer, so here are the vocal entries of four competing versions – all recorded in 1943, when the song was newly-published. Each is very fine, and while I also consider six more recordings, I don’t think that any of them are serious rivals to the 1943 versions.

The Leading Contenders

The first recording was by the orchestra of Francisco Canaro, with singer, Carlos Roldán, recorded on 26 May 1943. The arrangement is straightforward, well-played and the recording is decent. However, the string writing sounds rather too much like the style of the De Angelis orchestra for my liking.

Uno: Canaro (Roldán), 1943 – Vocal entry.

Next in the studio was Aníbal Troilo with singer, Alberto Marino, and the recording was made on 30 June 1943. Marino is probably the best singer of the four and the orchestral playing is matchless.

Uno: Troilo (Marino), 1943 – Vocal entry.

Juan D’Arienzo recorded the song on 23 November 1943 with singer Héctor Mauré. The piano part, more than anything, tells us that the orchestra is D’Arienzo, but this is far from the rhythmic, driven, sound of the late 1930s.

Uno: D’Arienzo (Mauré), 1943 – Vocal entry.

A few days later, on 1 December 1943, it was the turn of Osvaldo Fresedo with singer, Oscar Serpa. It would be a mistake to think of this a lightweight performance. There is some beautifully shaded playing from members of the orchestra and Serpa’s vocal contribution is notable.

Uno: Fresedo (Serpa), 1943 – Vocal entry.

Other Versions

Hard on the heels of the four 1943 recordings is this one by the orchestra of Rodolfo Biagi with singer, Carlos Acuña, from April 1944. I can’t get on with it: arch-rival, D’Arienzo surely had the measure of the song. Carlos Acuña seems to be trying to get to the end as quickly as possible, while Biagi sounds completely outside his comfort zone. (D’Arienzo was out of his comfort zone with Héctor Mauré, but he managed better than this).

Uno: Biagi (Acuña), 1944 – Vocal entry.

Troilo returned to the song in 1952 with singer, Jorge Casal. Troilo had switched record company from Victor to TK, and the sound is pretty dreadful for 1952. The arrangement is substantially the same as the Marino recording of nine years before, and if a master like Troilo feels he has something new to say about a previously recorded song, then it must be worth hearing. In the end, Casal can’t match Marino, and there’s no escaping the poor sound. Even playing it with other Casal recordings of the 1950s would be problematic: Troilo was just adopting a significantly new style (and one which most people think puts his music just beyond the mainstream of tango dance music of the Golden Age), and Uno was just before the switch. Most of the other Casal recordings belong in the new phase, and they are not obvious partners.

Uno: Troilo (Casal), 1952 – Vocal entry.

Carlos Acuña recorded the song, again, in 1957, under the direction of Uno’s composer, Mariano Mores. This time we hear the short orchestral introduction as well as the singer’s entry. Often, a composer’s own recording has to be considered to be definitive, but this just makes me laugh: what was he thinking? Acuña doesn’t help by singing under the note.

Uno: Mores (Acuña ), 1957 – Intro & vocal entry.

Armando Pontier also recorded the song in 1957 with Julio Sosa, but this is not a dance arrangement – the Golden Age was over. On its own terms, it is very fine until the entry of Sosa. Sadly, his voice is processed with so much added reverberation that it just sounds silly. Here is the greater part of the introduction, leading into Sosa’s entry.

Uno: Pontier (Sosa), 1957 – Intro & vocal entry.

Pontier made another recording of Uno in 1968 with Roberto Goyeneche, generally considered to be the finest tango singer of his generation. It too is concert music, but on its own terms much more successful than the earlier recording with Sosa. It is also the longest of any of the recordings, coming in at 4:10.

Uno: Pontier (Goyeneche), 1968 – Vocal entry.

The last version I’ve considered is also the latest recording. Osvaldo Pugliese recorded the song with singer, Abel Córdoba, in 1976. Again, this is in concert style. The orchestra arrangement sounds more like a Pugliese ‘greatest hits’ compilation, while Córdoba sings along. It is full of Pugliese cliches and treats the song in a very free and rhapsodic way. You’ll either love it or hate it. I tend to the latter view, but it’s worth hearing, but perhaps not more than once …

Uno: Pugliese (Córdoba), 1976 – Intro & vocal entry.

Comparing the 1943 Arrangements

The song has a very unusual structure. Discepolo’s lyric has three verses, but all of the arrangements set just the first two. That is unusual, in itself, as typically in a 1940s dance arrangement, the thematic material is played right through orchestrally before the singer enters to deliver the first verse of the lyric. We usually don’t hear the second verse at all, because the orchestra once more takes up the themes. The singer returns with a final verse or chorus to wrap up the arrangement and that’s it.

These arrangements all begin with an orchestral introduction (although Canaro’s is abridged), but from the first entry of the singer, two complete verses of the lyric are sung and at the conclusion of the second verse, the song ends (although Canaro offers a brief repeat).

The musical phrasing is very unusual, too. Usually, we expect to hear two contrasting sections: you can refer to them as A or B, or perhaps as verse and chorus. They are normally each of sixteen bars’ duration (4 + 4 + 4 + 4), and the whole song can be written out as a thirty-two bar piano score (16 + 16), printed on two sides of paper. This song is much longer, and the sections are of irregular length. The first section (A) is of twenty-two bars, grouped 4 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 3, and the second section (B) is of twenty-eight bars, grouped 4 + 4 +4 +4 +4 +4 +4.

Canaro’s introduction seems simple. He gives us just the first eight bars of section A and then the whole of section B. One surprise, is that the introduction is played in a completely different key from any of the other versions. The song is notated in D (although the melody is very chromatic), but Canaro plays the whole introduction in G. Initially, I assumed that this was to suit the vocal range of Roldán (a baritone), as the other singers were tenors – but no, right at the end of the introduction, Canaro’s arrangement makes an audacious modulation (changing key), and Roldán enters on exactly the same A as all the others. Once you’ve noticed, it’s a striking effect, but you’d easily miss it. Here’s Canaro’s introduction, ending with the entry of the singer:

Uno: Canaro (Roldán), 1943 – Introduction.

The piano plays the eight bars of section A, accompanied by pizzicato (plucked) strings, and then a bandoneon solo introduces section B. At 1:09, this is the shortest of the introductions.

Troilo gives us the whole of sections A & B. The first section is 44s, so the whole introduction lasts 1:41: almost half the duration of the song. The arrangement (made by Astor Piazzolla) is much more sophisticated than Canaro’s. Troilo’s orchestra always created a unique sound: it sounds much bigger than it was. Its range of dynamics seems greater than anyone else (except perhaps Pugliese) could achieve – and he preferred the sound engineers to place their microphones slightly further from the instruments than his rivals. The recording technology of the day was stretched to the limits of what could be captured, but this is a magnificent sound – with Marino on top form, and a string section with a nearly full orchestral complement of violins I & II, cello & bass. It’s worth considering that this introduction is so complete and satisfying, that if there had been no singer, at all, no one would have complained. As it is, the delivery of Marino lifts the song to a special level, magnificently supported by the whole orchestra (and they are singing too: the Troilo trademark sound). Just wow.

Uno: Troilo (Marino), 1943 – Introduction.

D’Arienzo’s introduction plays exactly the same musical material as Troilo’s and is comparable in duration at 1:37. The arrangement lacks the subtlety of Troilo’s, and the piano (in particular) drives the performance in a way that doesn’t sit quite right with the material – but goodness, this is very unlike the D’Arienzo of the 1935-39 orchestra. There is light and shade in the playing, and section B begins with a lovely bandoneon solo. Mauré had a strong effect on the orchestra’s sound but Mauré only enters right at the very end of this introduction. The lyrical elements (and they are there in abundance) are produced by D’Arienzo and his regular players. Great stuff – but for me, anyway, while this is not in Troilo’s league (but then, I’d say that of D’Arienzo, full stop), it is perhaps the greatest recording of the D’Arienzo/Mauré partnership.

Uno: D’Arienzo (Mauré), 1943 – Introduction.

Once again, Fresedo presents the whole of sections A & B in his introduction, which also lasts 1:37. You might be forgiven for expecting something very typically sugary, even lightweight, from Fresedo – at least, in comparison with the others – but no, the arrangement is within the bounds of good taste (always a risk, with Fresedo from the 1940s onwards), and there is playing of great sensitivity and beauty, particularly from the piano.

Uno: Fresedo (Serpa), 1943 – Introduction.

So that just leaves section B. Each orchestra has already played through all of the thematic material, and it is the turn of the singer to present the second verse of the lyric, with the orchestra in a supporting role.

Roldán, for Canaro, continues to do a good job, but the arrangement sounds too cheerful, even jaunty – missing the mark. Roldán gives us the second verse, and then there is an orchestral interlude, taken from the middle of the verse, with Roldán returning with a repeat the end of the last lines – and that’s it. Ultimately, the performance doesn’t quite convince me.

Uno: Canaro (Roldán), 1943 – Section B.

Troilo’s arrangement has Marino sing straight through section B just once – there are no orchestral interludes or coda. We have been given all of the thematic material twice though: once orchestrally, and now, vocally. All is in perfect balance and it requires nothing more.

Uno: Troilo (Marino), 1943 – Section B.

Like Troilo, D’Arienzo takes section B straight through. The sound is out of balance, though, favouring Salamanca’s rather strident piano playing over Mauré’s rather understated delivery. I don’t feel able to set it aside, but this isn’t a version I turn to very often.

Uno: D’Arienzo (Mauré), 1943 – Section B.

Fresedo also plays section B straight through, without repeats. Serpa makes a beautiful sound, but I’m not sure he quite gets under the skin of the lyric. The orchestral arrangement, relying heavily on the piano’s role, complements the singer, but this doesn’t carry the depth of Troilo’s interpretation with Marino.

Uno: Fresedo (Serpa), 1943 – Section B.

Conclusions

Aníbal Troilo
Aníbal Troilo

Troilo’s version with Marino is my preferred choice: it has a depth and quality that the others can’t match. It’s a great song, but everyone still wants to hear the upbeat 1941 Troilo instead, either instrumentally, or with Fiorentino.

D’Arienzo’s version with Mauré would be my second choice. There are not many D’Arienzo/Mauré songs widely available in decent fidelity (and there are several transfers of Uno doing the rounds that are transferred far too fast, and which sound rather silly*). I have a soft spot for the Fresedo version. It doesn’t plumb the depths, but isn’t lightweight, either. I can take or leave the Canaro, but I’m not really a fan of Canaro from the 1940s onwards, generally.

Caveat emptor

*I did a quick check on downloadable versions of the D’Arienzo recording. Only a couple are at anything like the right speed/pitch (my library version comes in at 3:17 tuned to A = 440 Hz). This one managed to fit into 2:59 and needed slowing down by no less than 9.5% to get to concert pitch. It still sounded awful, too.

Uno: D’Arienzo (Mauré), 1939.

 

Playlist: 31 March 2019 (Tango Matiné Letchworth)

 

Genre Song Year Artists
Tango Mosterio 1939 Enrique Rodríguez (Roberto Flores)
Vendrás alguna vez 1938
Un copetín 1939
Con permiso, señorita 1939
Tango Al compás de un tango 1942 Lucio Demare (Juan Carlos Miranda)
Sorbos amargos 1942
Pa’ mí es igual 1942
Malena 1942
Tango Paciencia 1938 Francisco Canaro (Roberto Maida)
El adiós 1938
Nada más 1938
Madreselva 1938
Vals Pedacito de cielo 1942 Miguel Caló (Alberto Podestá)
Me duele el corazón 1944 Miguel Caló (Raúl Iriarte &c)
Jugando, jugando 1944 Miguel Caló (Raúl Berón)
Tango Gallo ciego 1938 Ricardo Tanturi (Instrumental)
Comparsa criolla 1941
Tierrita 1937
Una noche de garufa 1941
Tango Solamente ella 1945 Carlos Di Sarli (Jorge Durán)
Tu íntimo secreto 1945
Porteño y bailarín (1°) 1945
Tus labios me dirán 1945
Milonga La puñalada (1°) 1937 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Milonga, vieja milonga 1937
El esquinazo 1938
Tango Yo soy el tango 1941 Aníbal Troilo (Francisco Fiorentino)
Te aconsejo que me olvides 1941
Toda mi vida 1941
Tinta roja 1941
Tango Te llama mi violín 1942 Osvaldo Fresedo (Oscar Serpa)
Este viejo corazón 1943
Al cerrar los ojos 1943
Uno 1943
Vals Salud, dinero y amor 1939 Francisco Lomuto (Jorge Omar)
Dime que sí 1938
Ti-pi-tin 1938
Tango Canaro en París 1952 Héctor Varela (Instrumental)
Champagne tango 1952
El flete 1950
Sábado inglés 1951
Tango Shusheta (El aristócrata) 1945 Ángel D’Agostino (Ángel Vargas)
Rondando tu esquina 1945
Hotel Victoria 1945
Ave de paso 1945
Milonga Milonga del novecientos 1933 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá)
Yo me llamo Juan Te Quiero 1934
Milonga sentimental 1933 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá & Ángel Rámos)
Tango Yuyo verde 1945 Osvaldo Pugliese (Alberto Morán)
Maleza 1945
Mentira 1945
El abrojito 1945
Tango Bahía Blanca (1°) 1957 Carlos Di Sarli (Instrumental)
Nueve puntos (3°) 1956
Cara sucia (2°) 1957
Viviani (2°) 1956
Vals Soñar y nada más 1943 Aníbal Troilo (Francisco Fiorentino & Alberto Marino)
Palomita blanca 1944 Aníbal Troilo (Alberto Marino & Floreal Ruíz)
Uruguaya 1943 Aníbal Troilo (Francisco Fiorentino & Alberto Marino)
Tango Maldita 1931 Francisco Canaro (Charlo)
Flor de fango 1931
Escribile al comisario 1931
La última copa 1931
Tango Humillación 1941 Rodolfo Biagi (Jorge Ortiz)
Marcas 1940
Indiferencia 1941
La marcha nupcial 1942
Milonga Sacale punta 1938 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos & Armando Piovani)
De punta a punta 1939 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos)
Ella es así 1938
Tango Nueve de julio 1950 Alfredo De Angelis (Instrumental)
El vazquito 1955
Caminito 1955
Pavadita 1958
Tango Dos guitas (1°) 1939 Juan D’Arienzo (Alberto Echagüe)
Trago amargo (1°) 1939
Que dios te ayude 1939
El vino triste (1°) 1939

Playlist: 19 February 2019 (La Vida! Cambridge)

Genre Song Year Artists
Tango Dos amores 1932 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá)
La que murió en París 1932
Pero aquel muchacho 1932
Quién hubiera dicho 1932
Tango Son cosas del bandoneón 1939 Enrique Rodríguez (Roberto Flores)
Déjame ser así 1938
Te quiero ver, escopeta 1939
Si no me engaña el corazón 1939
Vals Yo no sé que me han hecho tus ojos 1955 Armando Cupo (Alberto Morán)
Acordándome de vos 1955
Quemá esas cartas 1955
Tango Racing Club 1946 Ángel D’Agostino (Instrumental)
De corte criollo 1945
Con sabor a tango 1946
Gran muñeca 1943
Tango Gólgota 1938 Francisco Lomuto (Jorge Omar)
Vendrás alguna vez? 1938
Yo seré como tú quieras 1938
La melodía de nuestro adiós 1938
Milonga Luna 1943 Lucio Demare (Raúl Berón)
Ropa blanca 1943
Chatero de aquel entonces 1943
Tango Corazón (1°) 1939 Carlos Di Sarli (Roberto Rufino)
Lo pasao pasó 1940
Cosas olvidadas 1940
En un beso la vida 1940
Tango Esta noche al pasar 1944 Pedro Laurenz (Jorge Linares)
Naranjo en flor 1944
Trenzas 1944
Barrio tranquilo 1944
Vals Soñar y nada más 1944 Alfredo De Angelis (Carlos Dante & Julio Martel)
Pobre flor (Primera ilusión) 1946
Flores del alma 1947
Tango Araca la cana 1933 Osvaldo Fresedo (Roberto Ray)
El mareo 1933
Cordobesita 1933
Colibriyo 1933
Tango Sangre de mi sangre 1954 Rodolfo Biagi (Hugo Duval)
No me digas que no 1954
Santa milonguita 1955
Alguien 1956
Milonga Bien porteña 1957 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Munyinga 1959
Engañadora 1959
Tango Se va la vida 1936 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos)
Así es el tango 1937
El adiós 1938
Alas rotas 1938
Tango Amurado 1944 Osvaldo Pugliese (Instrumental)
El rodeo 1943
El remate 1944
El taita (Raza criolla) 1945
Vals Romántica 1938 Francisco Canaro (Roberto Maida)
El triunfo de tus ojos 1938
Ti-pi-tin 1938
Tango Yo soy el tango 1941 Miguel Caló (Alberto Podestá)
Si tú quisieras 1943
Percal 1943
Dos fracasos 1941
Tango Color de rosa 1945 Aníbal Troilo (Instrumental)
Ojos negros 1948
Selección de tangos de Julio De Caro 1949
Patético 1949
Milonga Mozo guapo 1941 Ricardo Tanturi (Alberto Castillo)
Así es la milonga 1942
Mi morocha 1941
Tango Milonguero viejo (3°) 1951 Carlos Di Sarli (Instrumental)
Como los nardos en flor 1951
La cachila (2°) 1952
El ingeniero (2°) 1952
Tango Re Fa Si (2°) 1972 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Adiós, Coco 1972
La guiñada 1973
Selección de tangos 1972

 

Where and when …

IMG_1670
Clive Harrison Tango DJ

Tango Matiné Letchworth – Sunday, 31 March 2019 (2pm – 6pm)

  • Jackman’s Community Centre, Ivel Court, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 2NL (Map & directions here.)
  • Organiser: Letchworth Tango Academy
  • You can see the playlist from my DJ set here.

 


La Vida! – Tuesday, 19 February 2019 (7:30pm – 11pm)

  • St Paul’s, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1JP (Map & directions here.)
  • Organiser: CamTango
  • You can see the playlist from my DJ set here.

Etonathon – Sunday, 30 December 2018 (2pm – 6pm)

  • Old Windsor Memorial Hall, Straight Road, Old Windsor, SL4 2RN (Map & directions here.)
  • Organiser: Thames Valley Tango
  • You can see the playlist from my DJ Set here.

La Vida! – Tuesday, 4 December 2018 (7:30pm – 11pm)

  • St Paul’s, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1JP (Map & directions here.)
  • Organiser: CamTango
  • You can see the playlist from my DJ Set here.

Redmarley Milonga – Saturday, 10 November 2018 (7:30pm – 11:30pm)

  • Redmarley Village Hall, The Causeway, Redmarley D’Abitot, GL19 3HS (Map & directions here.)
  • Organiser: Three Counties Tango
  • You can see the playlist from my DJ Set here.

Playlist: 30 December 2019 (Etonathon: Old Windsor)

Genre Song Year Artists
Tango El cachafaz 1937 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Gallo ciego (1°) 1937
El porteñito 1937
El choclo (1°) 1937
Tango Tango argentino 1942 Enrique Rodríguez (Armando Moreno)
Yo no sé por qué razón 1942
El huérfano 1942
Un tropezón 1942
Vals Volverás pero cuándo 1940 Edgardo Donato (Gavioli, Lagos & Morales)
Diablesa 1940 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos)
Qué será? 1938
Tango Ensueños 1943 Carlos Di Sarli (Instrumental)
El paladín (2°) 1941
Ojos negros 1945
Cuidao con los cincuenta (1°) 1942
Tango Esta noche al pasar 1944 Pedro Laurenz (Jorge Linares)
Naranjo en flor 1944
Trenzas 1944
Barrio tranquilo 1944
Milonga Silueta porteña 1936 Francisco Canaro (Roberto Maida)
Largá las penas 1935
Milonga criolla 1936
Tango Humillación 1941 Rodolfo Biagi (Jorge Ortiz)
Marcas 1940
Indiferencia 1941
La marcha nupcial 1942
Tango Buscándote 1941 Osvaldo Fresedo (Ricardo Ruiz)
Vida querida 1940
Solo tú 1941
Rosarina linda 1940
Vals Romance de barrio 1947 Aníbal Troilo (Floreal Ruíz)
Llorarás, llorarás 1945
Flor de lino 1947
Tango Tres esquinas 1941 Ángel D’Agostino (Ángel Vargas)
Un copetín 1941
Adiós, arrabal 1941
Ahora no me conocés 1941
Tango Araca la cana 1933 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá)
Andate (No te vayas) 1933
Tres esperanzas 1933
La cachetada 1933
Milonga La puñalada (1°) 1937 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Milonga, vieja milonga 1937
El esquinazo 1938
Tango Yo soy el tango 1941 Miguel Caló (Alberto Podestá)
Si tú quisieras 1943
Percal 1943
Dos fracasos 1941
Tango Recuerdo malevo 1941 Ricardo Tanturi (Alberto Castillo)
Al compás de un tango 1942
El tango es el tango 1942
Así se baila el tango 1942
Vals Volvió la princesita 1932 Orquesta Típica Los Provincianos (Luis Díaz)
Un placer 1933 Orquesta Típica Los Provincianos (Carlos Lafuente)
A tu memoria, madrecita 1934 Orquesta Típica Los Provincianos (Luis Díaz)
Tango Inspiración 1943 Aníbal Troilo (Instrumental)
Chiqué (El elegante) 1944
Bien porteño 1944
Piropos 1944
Tango Porteño y bailarín (2°) 1953 Carlos Di Sarli (Mario Pomar)
Patotero sentimental (2°) 1954
La capilla blanca (2°) 1953
Duelo criollo (2°) 1953
Milonga No hay tierra como la mía 1939 Julio De Caro (Héctor Farrel)
De contrapunto 1936 Julio De Caro (Instrumental)
Sacas chispas 1938 Julio De Caro (Luis Díaz)
Tango Mano a mano 1936 Francisco Lomuto (Jorge Omar)
Las cuarenta 1937
Que nadie se entere 1936
Nostalgias 1936
Tango Una emoción 1943 Lucio Demare (Raúl Berón)
Oigo tu voz 1943
Mi vieja ribera 1943
Palomita mía 1943
Vals Dos que se aman 1948 Osvaldo Pugliese (Alberto Morán)
Manos adoradas 1952
Ilusión marina 1947
Tango La bruja (1°) 1938 Juan D’Arienzo (Alberto Echagüe)
Pensalo bien 1938
Nada más (1°) 1938
Indiferencia 1938
Tango Frases de amor 1927 Sexteto Osvaldo Fresedo (Instrumental)
Caminito 1927
La cachila 1927
La cumparsita 1927

Playlist: 4 December 2018 (La Vida! Cambridge)

Genre Song Year Artists
Tango Mosterio 1939 Francisco Lomuto (Fernando Díaz)
Tango amigo 1939
Negro lindo 1940
Como abrazado a un rencor 1941
Tango Ya sale el tren 1943 Miguel Caló (Jorge Ortiz)
Barrio de tango 1943
Mi cantar 1943
A las siete en el café 1943
Vals Amor y celos 1936 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Inolvidable 1936
Lágrimas y sonrisas 1936
Tango El encopao 1942 Enrique Rodríguez (Armando Moreno)
Como has cambiado pebeta 1942
Mirame de frente 1942
Yo también tuvé un cariño 1942
Tango Unión cívica 1938 Rodolfo Biagi (Instrumental)
El trece 1938
El incendio 1938
Pura clase 1939
Milonga Silueta porteña 1936 Francisco Canaro (Roberto Maida)
Largá las penas 1935
Milonga criolla 1936
Tango C. T. V. 1942 Aníbal Troilo (Instrumental)
Cordón de oro 1941
El tamango 1941
Guapeando 1941
Tango Trasnochando 1942 Ángel D’Agostino (Ángel Vargas)
Todo terminó 1942
Me llaman tango 1943
Mi viejo barrio 1944
Vals Sonata 1937 Orquesta Tipica Victor (Agustín Magaldi)
Sin rumbo fijo 1938 Orquesta Típica Victor (Ángel Vargas)
Temo 1940 Orquesta Típica Victor (Mario Corrales)
Tango Al compás del corazón (2°) 1953 Carlos Di Sarli (Oscar Serpa)
La canción más triste (2°) 1953
Buenos Aires, yo te canto 1953
Verdemar (2°) 1954
Tango Qué importa 1939 Juan D’Arienzo (Alberto Echagüe)
Mandria (1°) 1939
Ansiedad 1938
Olvidame 1939
Milonga No hay tierra como la mía 1939 Julio De Caro (Héctor Farrel)
De contrapunto 1936 Julio De Caro (Instrumental)
Sacas chispas 1938 Julio De Caro (Luis Díaz)
Tango Recién 1943 Pedro Laurenz (Alberto Podestá)
Yo quiero cantar un tango 1943
Que nunca me falte 1943
Garúa 1943
Tango Gallo ciego 1938 Ricardo Tanturi (Instrumental)
Comparsa criolla 1941
Tierrita 1937
Una noche de garufa 1941
Vals Rosamel 1940 Carlos Di Sarli (Roberto Rufino)
Alma mía 1940
Cortando camino 1941
Tango Muchachos comienza la ronda 1943 Osvaldo Pugliese (Roberto Chanel)
Rondando tu esquina 1945
Silbar de boyero 1944
Dandy 1945
Tango Carnaval de mi barrio 1939 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos & Lita Morales)
Mi serenata 1940 Edgardo Donato (Romeo Gavioli & Lita Morales)
Sombra gaucha 1939 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos & Lita Morales)
Yo te amo 1940 Edgardo Donato (Romeo Gavioli & Lita Morales)
Milonga Ficha de oro 1942 Aníbal Troilo (Francisco Fiorentino)
De pura cepa 1942 Aníbal Troilo (Instrumental)
Con permiso! 1944 Aníbal Troilo (Alberto Marino)
Tango Viejo malevo 1952 Osvaldo Fresedo (Héctor Pacheco)
Fugitiva 1952
Discepolín 1951
La casita de mis viejos 1952
Tango La cumparsita 1927 Sexteto Osvaldo Fresedo (Instrumental)

Playlist: 10 November 2018 (Redmarley)

Genre Song Year Artists
Tango Marioneta 1943 Alfredo De Angelis (Floreal Ruíz)
Déjame así 1943
Bajo el cono azul 1944
Tango Es en vano llorar 1943 Miguel Caló (Raúl Iriarte)
Mañana iré temprano 1943
Cuento azul 1943
Vals Viaje de bodas 1935 Francisco Canaro (Roberto Maida)
Siempre tuya seré 1935
Sueño de muñeca 1935
Tango Tú el cielo y tú 1944 Enrique Rodríguez (Armando Moreno)
Naranjo en flor 1944
Motivo sentimental 1944
Tango Agua florida 1941 Ángel D’Agostino (Ángel Vargas)
Adiós, arrabal 1941
Adiós para siempre 1942
Milonga Qué tiempo aquel de ayer 1938 Francisco Lomuto (Jorge Omar)
Varón 1939
Milongón 1939
Tango Sencillo y compadre 1941 Aníbal Troilo (Francisco Fiorentino)
El bulín de la calle Ayacucho 1941
Una carta 1941
Tango Humillación 1941 Juan D’Arienzo (Héctor Mauré)
Dime mi amor 1941
Nunca más (1°) 1941
Vals María Remedios 1942 Pedro Laurenz (Alberto Fuentes)
Mascarita 1940 Pedro Laurenz (Juan Carlos Casas)
Flores del alma 1942 Pedro Laurenz (Martín Podestá)
Tango Buen amigo 1936 Francisco Canaro (Instrumental)
Don Álvaro 1937
Pura milonga 1937
Tango Canta, pajarito 1943 Lucio Demare (Raúl Berón)
Moneda de cobre 1943
Tal vez será su voz 1943
Milonga Cuando un viejo se enamora 1942 Carlos Di Sarli (Roberto Rufino)
Yo soy de San Telmo 1943
Maldonado 1943
Tango Puente Alsina 1949 Osvaldo Pugliese (Jorge Vidal)
Vieja recova 1950
Testamento de arrabal 1949
Tango Don Juan 1932 Orquesta Típica Victor (Alberto Gómez)
El mortero del globito 1933
Ventarrón 1933
Vals Indiferente 1958 Jorge Dragone (Argentino Ledesma)
El santo de la espada 1950 Alfredo De Angelis (Julio Martel)
El viejo vals 1951 Francisco Rotundo (Enrique Campos & Floreal Ruíz)
Tango Color de rosa 1945 Aníbal Troilo (Instrumental)
Ojos negros 1948
Patético 1949
Tango Nada 1944 Rodolfo Biagi (Alberto Amor)
Café de los angelitos 1945
Cuando llora la milonga 1946
Milonga No hay tierra como la mía 1939 Julio De Caro (Héctor Farrel)
De contrapunto 1936 Julio De Caro (Instrumental)
Sacas chispas 1938 Julio De Caro (Luis Díaz)
Tango Nunca tuvo novio 1943 Pedro Laurenz (Alberto Podestá)
Veinticuatro de agosto 1943
Patria mía 1943
Tango Encuentro 1944 Ricardo Tanturi (Enrique Campos)
Sollozo de bandoneón 1943
Malvón 1943
Vals Orillas del plata 1935 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
No llores madre (1°) 1936
Sueño florido 1936
Tango Un tango y nada más 1945 Carlos Di Sarli (Jorge Durán)
Hoy al recordarla 1945
Que no sepan las estrellas 1945
Tango Pampero 1948 Osvaldo Fresedo (Roberto Ray)
Y la perdí 1948
Tu piel de jazmín 1950
Milonga Sacale punta 1938 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos & Armando Piovani)
De punta a punta 1939 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos)
Ella es así 1938 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos)
Tango Cantemos corazón 1956 Juan D’Arienzo (Armando Laborde)
Ay mimosa! 1956
Calla bandoneón 1956
Tango El choclo (2°) 1954 Carlos Di Sarli (Instrumental)
Tinta verde (3°) 1954
La cumparsita (3°) 1955

 

Playlist: 13 October 2018 (Redmarley)

Genre Song Year Artists
Tango Mosterio 1939 Enrique Rodríguez (Roberto Flores)
Vendrás alguna vez 1938
Un copetín 1939
Con permiso señorita 1939
Tango Ventanita florida 1932 Francisco Canaro (Agustín Irusta)
Mi provinciana 1932
Silbando 1932
Rosa reseca 1932
Vals Amor y celos 1936 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Inolvidable 1936
Lágrimas y sonrisas 1936
Tango De seis a siete 1944 Miguel Caló (Raúl Iriarte)
Bohardilla 1944
Si yo pudiera comprender 1944
Mi tango es triste 1944
Tango Gólgota 1938 Francisco Lomuto (Jorge Omar)
Vendrás alguna vez? 1938
Yo seré como tú quieras 1938
La melodía de nuestro adiós 1938
Milonga Mozo guapo 1941 Ricardo Tanturi (Alberto Castillo)
Así es la milonga 1942
Mi morocha 1941
Tango Tierrita 1934 Edgardo Donato (Instrumental)
El acomodo 1933
Chiqué (El elegante) 1936
La tablada 1936
Tango Y no te voy a llorar 1954 Rodolfo Biagi (Hugo Duval)
El carrerito 1956
Soñemos 1957
Mi vida en tus manos 1957
Vals Temblando 1944 Pedro Laurenz (Carlos Bermúdez)
Paisaje 1943 Pedro Laurenz (Alberto Podestá)
Mendocina 1944 Pedro Laurenz (Carlos Bermúdez & Jorge Linares)
Tango Nido gaucho (1°) 1942 Carlos Di Sarli (Alberto Podestá)
No está 1942
Va a cantar un ruiseñor 1942
Volver a vernos 1942
Tango Hotel Victoria (1°) 1935 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Joaquina (1°) 1935
Sábado inglés (1°) 1935
Re Fa Si (1°) 1935
Milonga Cimarrón de ausencia 1945 Aníbal Troilo (Alberto Marino & Floreal Ruíz)
Milonga en rojo 1944
El desafío 1944 Aníbal Troilo (Francisco Fiorentino & Alberto Marino)
Tango Una pena 1941 Ángel D’Agostino (Ángel Vargas)
Sólo compasión 1941
Un tropezón 1942
Notas de bandoneón 1942
Tango El monito 1945 Osvaldo Pugliese (Instrumental)
El paladín 1945
Pelele 1945
Derecho viejo 1945
Vals Noche de estrellas 1939 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá)
Tormenta en el alma 1940 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá & Mirna Mores)
El vals del estudiante 1939 Francisco Canaro (Ernesto Famá)
Tango Igual que un bandoneón 1944 Ricardo Tanturi (Enrique Campos)
Y siempre igual 1944
Anselmo Laguna 1945
Igual que una sombra 1945
Tango En esta tarde gris 1941 Aníbal Troilo (Francisco Fiorentino)
Cautivo 1941
Mi castigo 1942
Por las calles de la vida 1942
Milonga Silueta porteña 1936 Juan D’Arienzo (Walter Cabral)
El temblor 1938 Juan D’Arienzo (Alberto Echagüe)
Milonga del corazón 1938
Tango Comme il faut (3°) 1955 Carlos Di Sarli (Instrumental)
El once (3°) 1954
Rodriguez Peña (3°) 1956
Don Juan (3°) 1955
Tango Al compás de un tango 1942 Lucio Demare (Juan Carlos Miranda)
Sorbos amargos 1942
Pa’ mí es igual 1942
Malena 1942
Vals Yo no sé que me han hecho tus ojos 1955 Armando Cupo (Alberto Morán)
Acordándome de vos 1955
Quemá esas cartas 1955
Tango Viejo malevo 1952 Osvaldo Fresedo (Héctor Pacheco)
Fugitiva 1952
Discepolín 1951
La casita de mis viejos 1952
Tango La cumparsita 1927 Sexteto Osvaldo Fresedo (Instrumental)

¡viejo Discepolín!

Tango 500 Book
Tango 500: the book.

This is the first in an occasional series about tango songs that I believe have special qualities but are only infrequently heard. I love the music of Aníbal Troilo and one of his little-heard masterpieces, Discepolín, is my first choice for this series.

Homero Manzi

The music was composed by Troilo, with a wonderful lyric by his friend and regular collaborator, Homero Manzi. It was written as a tribute to the great tango composer and lyricist, Enrique Discépolo, who had turned 50 in March 1951. Tragedy makes the song particularly poignant, as Manzi was to die of cancer on 3 May 1951, just days before the first recording of the song and Discépolo died on 23 December in that same year from a stroke.

Enrique Discépolo wrote the music and/or the lyrics of lots of very familiar tango compositions. His works include Yira, yira, Confesión, Esta noche me emborracho, Sueño de juventud, Cafetín de Buenos Aires, Carrillón de la Merced, Cambalache, Secreto, Alma del bandoneón, Soy un arlequín, Canción desesperada, Condena, Tormenta, Mensaje and dozens of others.

Enrique Discépolo

The translation of the lyric for Discepolín into English (below) is a machine translation made by Google Translate, with just a few minor amendments. You can find others, online, but I’m regularly surprised at what a good job Google Translate does, even with poetry.

Recordings

There are three recordings by dance orchestras and they all date from 1951. The earliest was not Troilo’s own but was made by the orchestra of Enrique Francini & Armando Pontier together with a little-known singer, Héctor Montes. The recording was made on 11 May 1951 (for Victor) and it has the best sound of the three. Troilo’s own recording, with Raúl Berón on vocals, was made on 29 May 1951 (for TK), and while the recording must be considered definitive, the sound quality is terrible. Osvaldo Fresedo made the last recording, with Héctor Pacheco on 13 June 1951 (for Columbia), and the sound is decent. There is also a much later recording by Orquesta Típica Porteña and Roberto Goyeneche in 1976, but I’ll not consider it further, here.

For the following extracts, I have taken versions of each song from my own library and rendered them at the same pitch, processed them to reduce clicks & crackle and matched the gain levels as far as possible. Finally, because the sound of the TK recording is so poor and constricted, I have applied pseudo-stereo processing to it, which opens up the texture a little (which helps on headphones, in particular), and for consistency, have done the same for the others. To keep file sizes small (particularly as they are in ‘stereo’), I have rendered them as 128 kbps MP3 files.

The duration of the recordings varies considerably. The Francini-Pontier version lasts 2:58, Fresedo’s is 3:12 while Troilo’s is significantly longer at 3:39. This is partly a matter of the chosen pace, but mainly because of the form or structure of the arrangements.

In the early 1940s any Troilo vocal arrangement would have the orchestra play through the thematic material (verse & chorus, usually 8 bars + 8 bars) before the singer delivered the first verse (and chorus) of the lyric. The orchestra would return for 16 bars (meaning that the second verse of the lyric was never sung), and then the singer would be heard again, with the arrangement wrapping up soon after. By Discepolín, things were less rigidly fixed. Troilo wrote three 8-bar thematic sections: let’s call them A, B & C. The lyric has three verses (each set to 16 bars of music: sections A + B). Section C is only heard orchestrally, but all three verses of the lyric are sung in each of the arrangements. There are interesting variations in the structure of all three arrangements, as you will hear.

Introduction

The most straightforward arrangement is that by Francini-Pontier. It opens with a short 2-bar introduction and then the three sections A, B & C are played through by the orchestra:

The first two sections are an exchange between the strings and the piano, but I can’t claim to like the way either are arranged much. There’s a moment from 0:29 when the violins briefly adopt a Pugliese-like Yumba figure (and more of that, later) and the introduction ends with very short solos for bandoneón and then violin (presumably, Pontier & Francini playing). At 53s, that’s it: and the singer enters with the first verse.

Troilo’s introduction is straight away much darker in colour and more dramatic:

Section A opens with strings and bandoneóns playing together, creating the rich and complex timbre that is unmistakeably Troilo; it ends with a sweet-toned violin solo. The piano initially carries the melody for section B, supported by the strings, and the section ends with full orchestra and a rising figure for cello right at the end.

That’s not the end of the introduction, though, because he now repeats both sections A & B and adds the additional section C, although it is not heard, again:

Section A builds to a climax, which melts away into section B and a beautiful but short bandoneon solo (Troilo, himself?) The full orchestra begins section C, which ends with another violin solo which balances the earlier one. The whole introduction has the structure ABABC and lasts 1:29.

Fresedo adopts the same structure for his orchestral introduction, beginning with sections A & B:

The strings are in the foreground, throughout, with a prominent role for piano.

He repeats sections A & B with little change in orchestration, but we don’t get section C (so it is missing from the arrangement, altogether), but instead, a 4-bar linking passage leading to the first sung verse quoting from Discépolo’s own composition, Cambalache:

First verse

On the frozen marble, croissant crumbs

and an absurd woman who eats in a corner ...

Your muse is bleeding and she has breakfast ...

the dawn does not forgive nor does it have a heart.

In the end, who is guilty of the grotesque life

and of the soul stained with carmine blood?

It is better that we leave before dawn,

before we cry, old Discepolin! ...

After a lightweight introduction, Francini-Pontier surprises us with the rich and slightly plummy baritone voice of Héctor Montes:

Troilo and Berón give the verse more colour, beginning quietly and building to a climax before falling back with wonderful word-setting:

It is sometimes said that Raúl Berón was at his best during his years with Troilo, and certainly he brings a depth to this interpretation that was not always apparent in earlier years. I don’t always enjoy Berón’s rather nasal crooning, but he musters some power, here, even if the sotto voce opening sounds as though he is struggling, a bit, at the bottom of his vocal range.

Fresedo accompanies Pacheco mainly with the strings, and the arrangement has real depth and subtlety:

Pacheco’s vocal delivery is a surprise; he has a fairly light, tenor voice, and yet he is more comfortable with the opening phrase and builds just as powerful a climax as either of the others. Methinks he is underrated, and I have been enjoying many of his other recordings of this period with Fresedo, too.

Second Verse

I know of your long boredom

and I understand what it costs to be happy,

and with the sound of each tango I feel your presence

with your enormous talent, and your nose;

with your bitter and hidden tears,

with your pale clown mask,

and with that sad smile

that flourishes in verse and song.

Continuing with Fresedo and Pacheco:

There is some lovely word-painting, here, and the orchestral writing balances the singer with interesting rhythms and colour that points up the lyric in a most affecting way.

Final verse

People come to you with their pile of sorrows

and you caress them with almost a tremor ...

It hurts as your own, the scar of others:

he had no luck and she didn't find love.

The ronda has been packed by the sound of the orchestra

They embrace under the spotlight like sawdust dolls ...

Can’t you see they're dancing?

Can’t you see they're partying?

Come on, everything hurts, old Discepolín ...

For the final verse, Francini-Pontier’s arrangement is nearly but not quite up to the job of supporting the singer:

Montes delivers the verse, and the climax of the song, with conviction, but overall he doesn’t quite have the depth of interpretation to pull it off, and I’m left thinking that everything here adds up to slightly less than the sum of its parts. There’s a nice touch, though, right at the end, with a short orchestral coda, with fleeting references to two other Discépolo compositions, Soy un arlequín and Yira yira.

Fresedo builds a satisfying climax, but with string writing that nearly gets carried away:

Pacheco’s voice is well-suited to the shape of the melody, rising in pitch and then falling back. He delivers the last line of the lyric with almost no accompaniment, and then orchestra ends the arrangement with some very bluesy chord progressions.

Troilo delays the final verse by adding a short linking section quoting from Uno, a song with a Discépolo lyric (but, ironically, the music being quoted was by Mariano Mores):

Berón builds the tension throughout section A, but the climax comes in the final section supported by driving chords played with strong arrastre (that Pugliese-like Yumba effect, again). I wonder whether the arranger of the Francini-Pontier version heard Troilo’s interpretation, played live, before the recording and ‘borrowed’ the idea. The climax melts away, and the strings, dying away, support Berón’s voice first with tremolo and then pizzicato chords. The song ends simply, with a perfect cadence.

Conclusions

Montes’ singing is the relative strength of the Francini-Pontier version. He only recorded one other song (a vals, Una triste verdad) and then got married and quit. The style of the orchestra is not really to my taste and the singer is very forward in the sound balance. I can’t see me ever choosing to play it for dancing (to say nothing of the challenge of finding a home for it in a good tanda).

I’m torn between the other two versions: Troilo ought to be the clear winner: it is the composer’s own interpretation, with a brilliant arrangement – a big, dramatic sound. I have reservations about Berón’s crooning and perhaps wish that Troilo had recorded it with Edmundo Rivero, instead.

It’s easy to dismiss Fresedo in this period as a purveyor of lightweight lyrical repertoire, but there’s more to him than that. This arrangement is inventive and well-played. Yes, it has many of the Fresedo trademark sounds (vibraphone and string glissandi) that make you either smile or wince (at your choice). Pacheco has a light tenor voice and yet he carries the lyric with sensitivity and conviction. I like it a lot.

Still torn, I can’t name a favourite: Troilo is poorly served by the recording, but the arrangement and performance have real gravitas and the music-making is of the highest quality. Fresedo has a different feel, but no less valid. I must have them both.

Here are the complete songs, including some unwelcome pitch variations:

Playlist: 8 September 2018 (Redmarley)

Genre Song Year Artist(s)
Tango Tango argentino 1942 Enrique Rodríguez (Armando Moreno)
Yo no sé por que razón 1942
El huérfano 1942
Un tropezón 1942
Tango Fué mi salvación 1940 Edgardo Donato (Horacio Lagos)
A oscuras 1941
Mis pesares 1941
A media luz 1941
Vals Adiós, querida 1941 Juan D’Arienzo (Héctor Mauré)
Cuatro palábras 1941
La serenata de ayer 1941
Tango Corazón 1939 Carlos Di Sarli (Roberto Rufino)
Lo pasao pasó 1940
Cosas olvidadas 1940
En un beso la vida 1940
Tango Retintín 1938 Francisco Canaro (Instrumental)
La puñalada 1937
La melodía de nuestro adiós 1938
Pampa 1938
Milonga Milonga antigua 1942 Miguel Caló (Raúl Berón)
El desafío 1944 Miguel Caló (Raúl Iriarte)
Milonga que peina canas 1942 Miguel Caló (Raúl Berón)
Tango Fumando espero 1927 Francisco Lomuto (Instrumental)
Bacán fulero 1927
Patadura 1929
Te aconsejo que me olvides 1928
Tango Humillación 1941 Rodolfo Biagi (Jorge Ortiz)
Marcas 1940
Indiferencia 1942
La marcha nupcial 1941
Vals Dos que se aman 1948 Osvaldo Pugliese (Alberto Morán)
Manos adoradas 1952
Ilusión marina 1947
Tango Arrabalero 1939 Osvaldo Fresedo (Instrumental)
Mariposita 1941
Divagando 1939
La mariposa 1945
Tango Noches de Colón 1941 Ricardo Tanturi (Alberto Castillo)
La vida es corta 1941
El moro 1941
Pocas palabras 1941
Milonga El torito 1954 Juan D’Arienzo (Instrumental)
Pampeana 1956
Bien porteña 1957
Tango Solamente ella 1944 Lucio Demare (Horacio Quintana)
El aguacero 1944
Oriente 1944
Torrente 1944
Tango Naranjo en flor 1944 Aníbal Troilo (Floreal Ruíz)
Yuyo verde 1945
Marioneta 1944
Luna llena 1944
Vals Romántica 1938 Francisco Canaro (Roberto Maida)
El triunfo de tus ojos 1938
Ti-pi-tin 1938
Tango Negracha 1948 Osvaldo Pugliese (Instrumental)
Patético 1948
Chuzas 1949
Malandraca 1949
Tango Como el hornero 1944 Ángel D’Agostino (Ángel Vargas)
El cocherito (1°) 1944
Esta noche en Buenos Aires 1944
Así era el tango 1944
Milonga Yo soy de San Telmo 1943 Pedro Laurenz (Alberto Podestá)
Maldonado 1943
El criollito oriental 1944
Tango La bruja (1°) 1938 Juan D’Arienzo (Alberto Echagüe)
Pensalo bien 1938
Que dios te ayude 1939
Nada más (1°) 1938
Tango Loca bohemia 1951 Julio De Caro (Instrumental)
Aníbal Troilo 1949
De rompe y raja 1949
Todo corazón 1951
Vals Tu diagnóstico 1941 Aníbal Troilo (Francisco Fiorentino)
Acordándome de vos 1942
Valsecito amigo 1943
Tango Milonguero viejo (3°) 1951 Carlos Di Sarli (Instrumental)
Como los nardos en flor 1951
La cachila (2°) 1952
El ingeniero (2°) 1952
Tango Niño bien 1928 Orquesta Típica Victor (Instrumental)
La muchacha del circo 1928
Esta noche me emborracho 1928
La cumparsita 1931 Orquesta Típica Los Provincianos (Roberto Díaz)