Camarada Artistic Director Beth Ross Buckley and her musical colleagues violinist David Buckley, pianist Dana Burnett and bassist Andrés Martín were joined by professional tango dancers Carolina Jaurena and Andrés Bravo in this concert devoted to music by Astor Piazzolla and Camarada’s composer-in-residence Andrés Martín.
With its lazy, sultry introduction, Piazzolla’s “Milonga del Ángel” evokes a blissful dream state conjured by slowly changing cluster chords. Over these gentle undulating sounds, flutist Beth Ross Buckley offered an expansive incantation that David Buckley’s shimmering violin solo gracefully extended, supported by understated accompaniment from bassist Martín and pianist Burnett. The composer’s “Lo Que Vendrá” charts a contrasting course, opening with a short but flashy violin cadenza, executed with flair by David Buckley, who quickly found a more ingratiating timbre to convey the tango’s elegant main theme. Burnett and Martín turned the theme into a lively duo that ushered in a series of rhapsodic episodes that gave the dancers a chance to display their bravura moves across the front of the Conrad stage.
Martín’s major work on the program, Three Tangos, unfolded as a tribute to three neighborhoods of his native Buenos Aires. The pulsing, assertive themes and nervous roulades of “Microcentro” easily suggested the busy life of the center city, followed by the second tango, “Balvanera,” a melancholic flute solo that Martín explained in his introduction to the piece portrayed his nostalgia for haunts he has left behind. “La Feria de San Telmo,” the last tango, paints a bustling street festival in which all four instruments engage in congenial carousing.
Camarada reprised Martín’s “Tango Bajo el Agua,” Camarada’s 2023 commission premiered exactly a year ago by the ensemble in a concert at The Conrad. With just four instruments, Martín is able to suggest in this tango a strong orchestral texture replete with serious, probing themes. “Silent,” this year’s Camarada commission from Martín, is an elegy that opens with disturbing riffs plucked from strings inside the piano to which repeated muffled notes toll in grief. Poignant themes traded by the flute and violin summon the anguish of loss in this deeply moving meditation.
Other offerings on this rich tango concert included “Danzarín” by Aníbal Troilo, the influential Argentine bandleader with whom Piazzolla got his start as performer and composer, and Eduardo Rovira’s “A Evaristo Carriego.”
This concert was presented by Camarada at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla on Saturday, February 3, 2024.