, January 2008
A heat wave and a night of tangos – that's how to see in the New Year
Consider this Buenos Aires's response to Vienna's New Year's Day concerts. Daniel Barenboim, who was born and raised in Argentina, leads the Buenos Aires Philharmonic at this open-air event, recorded live on New Year's Eve at the foot of the grand obelisk that stands smack in the city's centre. Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires's main artery – and, reportedly, the world's widest thoroughfare – was dosed to traffic, and the camera often lingers on the street thronged with thousands of porteños sweltering in a heatwave.
The programme is wide-ranging, drawing on classic tangos by Carlos Gardel and Julio de Caro as well as by examples of tango nuevo by Astor Piazzolla. The arrangements (by José Carli) are opulently textured and richly coloured, which gives a glittering sheen to music that is, at essence, roughly hewn. Nevertheless, the orchestra plays with gusto for Barenboim, even in well flogged warhorses like Piazzolla's Adiós Nonino, which is played with incendiary passion. A pair of appearances by veteran tanguero Leopoldo Federico and his crackerjack orquesta típica – a traditional "large" tango ensemble (this one consisting of five bandoneóns, four violins, piano, bass and cello) – offer a welcome change of aural scene. Other guests include dancers Mora Godoy and Junior Cervila, who move with slinky elegance, and Carlos Gari, who sings Naranjo en flor in a crooning kind of verismo. And how better to express the tango's bloody heart and yearning soul?