Tango's passion, with control

Tango's passion, with control

When the young Astor Piazzolla left Buenos Aires for Paris in 1954, it was with dreams of conquering the rarefied heights of European modernism.

We have his teacher Nadia Boulanger to thank for helping him to recognise that his extraordinary talents were better directed toward refining and renovating the tango of his native Argentina.

Jose Carbo, Slava Grigoryan and Leonard Grigoryan.

Jose Carbo, Slava Grigoryan and Leonard Grigoryan.

For My Latin Heart, the darlings of the Australian guitar, Slava and Leonard Grigoryan, joined the celebrated Argentinean-born Australian baritone Jose Carbo as he brought his own considerable talents to the works not just of Piazzolla but of other masters of the tango, including Mariano Mores and Carlos Gardel. The result is likely to be one of the standout musical moments of 2014.

Much of the evening's program was drawn from the group's well-received 2012 CD of the same name.

After two years performing together, Carbo and the Grigoryans are visibly comfortable with each other and with the repertoire. Musically, this results not in any sense of ennui but rather in a rare refinement and attention to detail.


Carbo's performance was a study in restraint - his musical territory is Buenos Aires, not Sao Paolo, and the power of the Argentinean tango lies in its ability to control passion as much as to flaunt it. With a voice that is able to move seamlessly between vulnerability and steel, Carbo achieves maximum emotional impact with minimal visible effort.

He was well matched by the Grigoryan brothers, whose famous technical mastery was accompanied by a sensitivity to Carbo's every breath and nuance. It is a rare performance in which the silences are as eloquent as the sound itself.

In a concert of such consistently high quality, it is difficult to single out the high points. Still, two numbers from the first half of the show encapsulated these performers' particular artistry.

The first was a guitar duo - the second movement of Piazzolla's Tango Suite - that showcased the brothers' intense musical connection, each interlocking melody aspiring to the condition of song.

The second - a classic tango-cancion by Carlos Gardel called El Dia Que Me Quieras - was quite simply one of the most beautiful things this reviewer has had the pleasure of hearing in some time.

Judging by the whooping and foot-stamping response that erupted at the end of the show, the rest of the audience would appear to have agreed.

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