The Colombian baritone and the group led by Giovanni Parra will present the concert “Eternamente Piazzolla” this Wednesday, August 4 at the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo.
Gonzalo Montes sang bambucos, tangos, boleros and at the age of 22 he began to study lyrical singing. (Courtesy: Teatro Mayor /)
Astor Piazzolla was one of the great geniuses of 20th century music. The Argentine composer, who toured the great stages of the world, revolutionized tango and at the same time aroused controversy among lovers of the traditional roots of the Argentine genre.
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In this 2021, the one hundred years of the birth of the Argentine composer are celebrated and this Wednesday, August 4, at 8:00 pm, the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Theater will be the scene of a concert in his tribute: Eternally Piazzolla.
The Colombian baritone Gonzalo Montes, with a career in various interpretive fields in different theaters, stars in this tribute to Piazzolla, accompanied by one of the most prominent musical groups in Colombia, the Leopoldo Federico Quintet.
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The concert’s repertoire is made up of some of the most famous Argentine songs, including renowned songs with lyrics by Roberto Bertozzi, Horacio Ferrer, Pino Solanas and Ángela Terenzi. Montes talks next about the concert.
Taking into account your extensive career in the lyrical field, what has it been like to sing Piazzolla?
Singing Piazzolla also has to do with the popular, I come from the popular, my beginnings were with the traditional music of Colombia. I sang bambucos, tangos, boleros and it wasn’t until I turned 22 that I started studying academic singing; however, he already had knowledge of Piazzolla.
Approaching him vocally is a challenge because you can’t sing in any way, you have to get closer to the style, you have to know his work, what he meant both instrumentally, musically and vocally. So being able to tackle Astor Piazzolla’s songs means entering a different world, although not completely unknown. The format of the song is not totally lyrical, but it is very close, although many singers from Argentina have sung it as tango, but Piazzolla requires a vision of both the popular and the classical.
What attracts you the most about Piazzolla’s work?
Basically it is the way in which he started to revolutionize tango, we are not going to say that to amend it, but rather he tried to give it a twist without losing the essence, of how he reached that musical and artistic inflection after having traveled the traditional tango, of having studied classical music and having tried to be a classical musician, writing symphonies and operas. I think it has to do with his form, with his way of being, not to mention the personal, but it does in the sense that he received many frontal attacks from the most popular spheres, from the tangueros who did not allow anything to be done different from what was already established.
Piazzolla overcame all these attacks, these adversities, he was a revolutionary and he was able to go to the other side without losing his essence. That caught my attention, being able to combine all that knowledge, both of classical music and of popular music and traditional tango, and that its essence was not lost, because its lyrics, its music and its songs also have a large part of the lunfardo and traditional tango.
Somehow, time has given Piazzolla the place it deserves …
I believe that sooner or later the good and the exalted end up imposing (…) Piazzolla’s music is art, it has that background that is needed for it to last. Piazzolla’s music is already history, it is already part of the history of music; other types of music that want to impose them on us will not be part of the history of music. And it happened to the great composers, such as Schubert, Rossini, Verdi and even Beethoven himself that they had some failures at the beginning, but their music continues to endure after 400 years, 200 years, 100 years.
How was the selection of the repertoire for this concert at the Teatro Mayor?
One would like to be able to sing everything, but I chose the songs that have to do with each other, that have to do with what maybe Piazzolla’s life can be. For instance, Ballad for my death it is an almost prophetic work. The beginning of the song says that he wants to die in Buenos Aires and it will be at dawn, that is practically fulfilled because Piazzolla was living outside of Buenos Aires, in Paris, when he suffered his brain accident; then he was transferred to Buenos Aires and he convalesced for two years and finally died in Buenos Aires. Or own Chiquilín de Bachín, a song that talks about a child who sells roses on the tables, who eats anything and that may be a proper reference to Piazzolla as a child, when he met Gardel in New York and was a child who really liked being on the street and he would listen to jazz from outside the bars. They are practically biographical songs, although that would not have been the purpose of Horacio Ferrer and Piazzolla himself at the time, but they talk about him.
Songs like The lost birds O The sad fat man, which is a tribute to Aníbal Troilo, they are things that catch my attention a lot and that touch my heart; however, there are not all the songs, I wish, but one day I will be able to do the integral of all his vocal work that is the intention that I have.
How has it been working with the Leopoldo Federico Quintet?
That is a dream come true, I manifested it to them in rehearsals. Giovanni Parra is a magnificent conductor, a wonderful arranger, apart from being a great arranger. They are very great professionals, people and performers, and above all the experience has been wonderful in the conjunction of the vocal with the instrumental, with the whole environment, with what Piazzolla means, with its anniversary …
Wednesday, August 4, 8 pm, at the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Theater. Tickets from 20,000 to 120,000 pesos.