Documentary about the life and work of Ástor Piazzolla – Music and books – Culture

A great bandoneon player opened the door to another. That was in any case the case for Daniel Rosenfeld, who in 2001 began to think about a film about Astor Piazzolla, when he premiered at the prestigious film festival in Berlin & # 39; Saluzzi, an essay for bandoneon and three brothers & # 39 ;, a film that an intense investigation into the musician from Salta who in the fifties met the maker of "Adiós Nonino", the famous tango that Astor dedicated to his father Vicente and regarded as the best one he composed in his long career.

Rosenfeld, director of films as & # 39; The chimera of the heroes & # 39; (2003) and & # 39; Cornelia in front of the mirror & # 39; (2012), knew at that moment that this idea could have a future. and almost twenty years later that film is a fact: it's called Piazzolla, the shark years & # 39 ;. "I had to meet Daniel, his son, to give me permission to use Astor's music in the documentary about Dino Saluzzi, and he was the one who told me that his father's life was a movie, and, quite frankly, he did not exaggerate, "he recalls.

In this solid documentary, the title of which illustrates that Piazzolla loves to fish for sharks, Rosenfeld travels from his childhood in New York to his life in Buenos Aires until his death in Buenos Aires, leaning on valuable archive material – television images, homemade films of his own own Astor and audio cassettes with conversations that his daughter Diana recorded to write a biography that was published in 1987 – and in the testimonies of Daniel.

As talented as it is controversial, Piazzolla shone in the 1950s with the New Tango Quintet, determined to forge his own style, but also inspired by the climate of an era in which artists such as Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis and John Coltrane revolutionized the world of jazz. He despised the tango that was exclusively aimed at dancing ("music is for people who think, I want them to come to listen and think, have no fun or digest," he said in an interview that Rosenfeld saved. # 39; groove & # 39; and the integration of the electric guitar, a symbol of modernity that, combined with the more traditional mood of the bandoneon, was a clear proof of his love of hybridity and experimentation.

"He was a great innovator, but before that he had to burn his head.I have the memory of studying music at all times.I went to the Teatro Colón and followed with the score that the orchestra played.He always said that his art is percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration, "says his son Daniel.

New York, where he lived for a total of 17 years (all his youth and then a return of three years in adulthood which ultimately went very frustratingly), was his favorite city: there he lived the adventures of a family that over the years whiskey produced and smuggled from Prohibition and practiced boxing was just a child, motivated by a father (the Nonino, who later became famous with one of his most emblematic subjects) who advised him to "always be the first to strike", a recommendation that his temperament.

"It had a special character, it is clear," says Daniel. When he decided to dissolve the Octet in which I played to put a Quintet back together, I told him it was a step back. He stopped talking to me and saw ten years. If I suspected that reaction, I would have kept quiet. & # 39; Piazzolla even had problems with artists he admired. The most obvious case was that of Aníbal Troilo, with whom he, as a young man, wanted to play fiercely and which he eventually despised in an interview with the lost magazine La Maga & # 39 ;. They asked him if he thought he could play like that and he replied: "If they tie my left hand behind my back and break three fingers on my right hand, I think so."

To forge the legend

Mordant and provocative, Astor wrote his own legend with bravado strength: "I make a new tango, both from the harmonic point of view and the rhythmic, I come up against the chin wordplay," he says in a other note that the & # 39; movie & # 39; pick up. "He had also been alienated from his daughter Diana for years, and part of the reconciliation had to do with what she decided to do with the biographical book of Astor, and the conversations that appear in the film helped the two to come closer," says Rosenfeld.

For the filmmaker, one of the main goals was "making a Piazzolla film for Piazzolla, trying to prove that creative power he had, beyond his contradictions. I love those nuances, he adds. It is not so easy to find someone who is so passionate. I was also interested in emphasizing his avant-garde profile. More than just paying attention to his relationship with the tango, the film paints a revolutionary music. "

That passion Rosenfeld speaks about was stimulated a lot by a father who at that moment bought his son a bandoneon in an auction house without knowing too much about the instrument. "It has the sound that I hear every night on the radio," Astor & # 39; s grandfather said when the boy played it for the first time. Soon Nonino would do his best to have his son study with Terig Tucci, an Argentinian born in Balvanera and based in New York thanks to a contract from the label RCA, who was the conductor of the orchestra that accompanied Carlos Gardel in the films that he filmed. in the United States. In one of the most famous, & # 39; The day you love me, Piazzolla performed when he was only a child.

The documentary by Rosenfeld contains the scene in which Piazzolla appears as a frank newspaper service and the story of a very beautiful story: "I went to the barbecue of Gardel and played a few tango", says Piazzolla. When I was done, he said to me: "Pibe, the bellows with which you touch phenomenon, but with the tango" you look like a Galician & # 39; "Difficult to conclude whether the anecdote is true or not, especially since Piazzolla was always very careful to incorporate his personal mythology in detail.

With Gardel there is more: in the documentary the story of a tango-gaucho from wood carved by Nonino that the Piazzolla family gave him to the Zorzal Criollo and that after the tragic air accident in Medellín in which the singer died, again scorched in a trade in New York. Piazzolla could have climbed into that plane, since Gardel invited him to take part in the Latin American tour he was going to undertake, but Nonino felt that at age 13 it was best for his son to dedicate himself to his studies. . "Fate crosses mysteriously in the life of Piazzolla," says Rosenfeld.

It was also the fate that stipulated that the director at the MOMA in New York would cross with the photographs of Saul Leiter, an American whose work accurately unites the spirit and the poetic value of an age of that city with the feelings of Argentinean musician Rosenfeld received the permission to include them in his film and occasionally learned from another incident: "These are photo's made in the 50's that coincide with the recordings that Astor made in 1956. I thought that it was impossible to get them, but in the end they gave me permission.When I went to the Saúl Leiter Foundation, I discovered that he lived around the corner from where Piazzolla lived, a neighborhood also called Astor Place. "

Eternal New Yorker

New York has a prominent role in the documentary. It is clear that it is the city where Piazzolla felt most at ease. In his own words: "I held New York in my blood and guts, all the great composers I know are from Manhattan and 50 percent of my music has to do with my life in that city," he once said. But the truth is that the Big Apple was quite hostile to his music and forced him to return to Buenos Aires after three years of unsuccessful attempts to settle there, where he eventually picked up the Quintet, his most celebrated training.

In order to pay tickets for the whole family, Piazzolla sold the rights of & # 39; Adiós Nonino & # 39 ;. "It is a subject with which I love / hate a relationship", he said years later. I composed it by thinking of my old man, whom I loved very much, but he also reminds me all the time that I had to leave New York, where I dreamed of staying. & # 39;

This is confirmed by his own son, Daniel: "He did primary and secondary school there, he had many friends, he was even part of a neighborhood gang, something he was proud of." Buenos Aires is a city that is loved. and missed, because it reflects a large part of his music, but I did not want to live here, and in Paris, where he lived for the last twenty years before he fell ill – Piazzolla was half paralyzed, deaf in one ear and blind one eye, he found the recognition he was so searching for. "

One of the virtues of Piazzolla, the years of the shark & ​​# 39; is to rigorously and rigorously reflect the enormous dimension of Astor as a musician: the brave who succeeded in adding the tango discourse he most appreciated (Troilo, De Caro, Pugliese) to the influence of Stravinsky, Ravel and the hard bat; the advanced student of Nadia Boulanger whom she described as "a great teacher, but also a torturer" for her level of question and the partner of the great New York saxophonist Gerry Mulligan.

Likewise, the back of & # 39; The misunderstood & # 39 ;, an exciting book by Diego Fischerman and Abel Gilbert that the Piazzolla family has never seen with good eyes, "the name Astor Piazzolla was for decades synonymous with rejection and devotion, controversy and hierarchy, all at the same time. to be arrival in the scene Buenos Aires marks a before and after that changes a tradition and launches a course that was then unknown. The matrix of your art is anything but simple. The same can be said of his personality. "

LA NACIÓN (Argentina) – GDA
On Twitter: @LANACION

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