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"Sexteto Mayor: On Air" - 2006

Tango – an art that’s apparently much more than just a sound. The culture of tango fuses music, words and dance and nowadays stands as a poetic way of life that communicates as a musical and social phenomenon. A far cry indeed from tango’s humble and disresputable beginnings more than a hundred years ago in Argentina. These days there are more tango aficionados and activists than ever around the globe. Ample proof of the notion that there seems to be a peculiar kind of magic at work here. And quite contrary to the past – there seems to be no end in sight.

The members of Sexteto Mayor have been worldwide ambassadors of tango for more than thirty years by now. They have been prominently featured on huge tango shows such as „Tango Argentino“ and „Tango Pasión“. They have travelled the world and have emerged as one of the most respected and best-loved traditional tango ensembles - sexteto típica-style featuring two bandoneons, two violins, piano and double-bass. Their repertoire incorporates the complete century-long history of the music. With a very sophisticated „Homage to Astor Piazzolla“ the ensemble hit the road yet again in 2003 to celebrate their very own 30th anniversary live on stage. But it was much more than that – besides this nod to personal history, Sexteto Mayor was out to celebrate the one of a kind emotional impact of tango at large. A music that was eventually revolutionized in the 1950s by the creative genius of one man – composer and bandoneon virtuoso Astor Piazzolla. Despite being subjected to fierce criticism from old school traditionalists in his homeland, Piazzolla’s music finally broke through in a big way. Today, compositions created by the tango nuevo master can be heard in the most prestigious concert halls and even the classical music world has whole-heartedly embraced his oeuvre. Astor Piazzolla was a true revolutionary who fused the history of tango with compositional techniques derived from classical music, creating eternally beautiful art in the process.

On a cold night in February, Sexteto Mayor presented this „Homage to Piazzolla“ at Radio Bremen’s famed concert hall. It turned out to be a glorious night in front of a packed auditorium that soaked up every note with great relish. It was a significant choice of repertoire the ensemble offered. In part one („The Road To Piazzolla“) the seven musicians performed pre-Piazzolla material. A selection of classic tangos, milongas and waltzes featuring a medley of tango cançions as performed by Carlos Gardel as well as compositions by Canaro, Plaza or Maderna. A kaleidoscope of past glories ranging from turn-of-the-century guardia vieja repertoire to guardia nueva classics of the 1920s and the „Golden Age“ of the 1940s and 1950s. All played with incomparable esprit and virtuoso craftmanship. A journey into tango’s past that was accompanied by huge waves of applause from a totally enthralled audience.

But Sexteto Mayor also told the story of Piazzolla’s musical resume. His growing up in New York with the sound of Gardel’s voice echoing through the halls, of his father Nonińo’s love for the music and his buying records to feed his emigrant soul, the many different composers’ influences or the interpretative genius of Anibal Troilo’s orchestra. An artist’s biography performed in music and a life as living musical history all the same. Many names from tango’s past appear and are put in relation to Piazzolla. In this manner Sexteto Mayor established a chain of many links and comment on the tango’s evolution leading straight to tango nuevo as invented by the genius of Piazzolla.

Part two of the concert is exclusively dedicated to the music of Piazzolla. Sexteto Mayor eloquently illustrate how uniquely this composer brought together the various strands of the tradition with his innovative musical mind. World famous compositions („Libertango“) are combined with sophisticated masterworks („Fuga y mysterio / Tangata“) and thus the latter half of the concert stands as a brilliant display of tango powers presented in concert style – nevertheless marked by immediate sensuality and life-affirming charm. „Tango is our life“ – with these simple words veteran bandoneon masters José Libertella († 8. December 2004) and Luis Stázo explain what it’s all about for them. Sexteto Mayor was founded in 1973 at the „Casa de Carlos Gardel“ - but to this day these grand seigneurs from Argentina do not play just to entertain. They are still talking about a substiantial kind of emotional identification with the music as a way of life and its peculiar kind of emotionality between fierce pride and lonely vulnerability. A wonderful night of Argentine tango as performed by true masters of the trade. Sexteto Mayor live „on air“ - celebrating the heart and soul of the music.