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Tango For Two

Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio

The Castellani Andriaccio guitar duo goes beyond Piazzolla

The opening concert in the 38th season of the Friends of Vienna subscription series, on Sunday, September 8 at 3:30pm, will feature a pair of firsts. For the first time a series concert will take place in the spacious sanctuary of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1080 Main Street, across from the Anchor Bar. The Buffalo-based, world-touring Joanne Castellani-Michael Andriaccio classical guitar duo will also make their series debut, playing a program of contemporary South American tango and milonga music composed specifically for two guitars.

The duo’s interest in playing tango music goes back to 1980, when they first heard the music of Astor Piazzolla, the Argentine composer who almost single handily introduced the “tango neuveau,” or new tango movement, to the rest of the world.

“We were addicted to his music and tango from that moment on,” says Andriaccio. “In 1992, we were booked to play a major festival in Los Angeles and I proposed that we play some tango arrangements. Joanne was shocked and not at all taken with the idea of deviating from our standard repertoire, but we did it and it was a huge success. We have been playing tangos as part of our concert repertoire ever since.

“Piazzolla wrote his Tango Suite for Two Guitars in 1984 and we recorded it in 1986 on our very successful Danzas and More CD. Then, in 2001, we recorded his Double Concerto in Tel Aviv with the Israel Chamber Orchestra. Many of the musicians were Eastern Europeans very ensconced in the genre, and a couple of them had actually played with Piazzolla, so that was quite a special time for us.”

While it would be unlikely to find anyone nowadays who does not like the tango music of Piazzolla, it is refreshing to find that his music is not a part of the duo’s just released CD, on their own Fleur de Son Classics label, Anima del Sur (Soul of the South), the music from which is featured in this concert.

“We wanted to record an album of lively, engaging music of wide appeal,” says Andriaccio. “As we were planning the project, we happened to come across all of these wonderful scores from friends and colleagues. During a residency at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, we were at dinner with our dear friend, Ernesto Bitetti, when he shot up from the table and came back with a score for Milongarrugada and Yerbita, fabulous tango puro music, by his Argentine compatriot Marcello Coronel. A few days later, we were performing in San Juan, PR and Ernesto Cordero gave us his Sonatina Tropical that has a wonderful seductive milonga in the last movement, ‘Salsa en Piñones.’ Things were just organically lining up.

“When people hear the word tango, they usually think of the ballroom dance with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers,” says Andriaccio. “But actually the tango is a culture more than a dance, a culture of misery and conflict. This type of tango was born in the brothels of a tiny street in Buenos Aires, El Caminito. It was a time of poverty, and cultural clashes between the gauchos and pamperos in the struggle with urban sprawl as a result of the great immigration from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. This style of dance took on the folkloric milonga rhythm, which really is quite international, hence the two styles as we have them today, the tango and the milonga—but almost impossible to totally separate one from the other.”

The duo will be playing both milonga and tango pieces on their program. When asked why composers still find milonga, the earlier form from which the tango evolved, so appealing, Andriaccio says, “The rhythm is contagious. Most cultures can relate to it and so it is a fruitful field for the creation of so much fabulous music. It is interesting that the tango (milonga) rhythm was such a part of Piazzolla’s DNA. When his family moved to New York, they lived for a time over a Jewish banquet/dance hall and all they heard all night long was the 3 + 3 + 2 rhythm that is the essence of ‘Hava Nagila’ and that also happens to be the milonga rhythm that is the heartbeat of the classic tango.”

Fleur de Son records recently partnered with Naxos, the dominant company in the classical recording industry, and that has put their company on the worldwide map, says Andriaccio. “We are so fortunate to have so many wonderful artists on our roster and ensembles like the London Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, and the Royal Philharmonic. With our engineer and partner, David Dusman, we plan to keep focusing on the state of the art recording standards that the label is known for.”

Tickets are $10, $5 for students. Find more information at

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