The cool, mysterious opening of Astor Piazzolla‘s La muerte del ángel has been going through my head since earlier this week, when I was listening semi-obsessively to a version on Zoran Dukic’s excellent new album, Bach–Piazzolla. Then I stumbled across this interpretation by Leo Brouwer performing his own arrangement of the piece (which is the one Dukic plays). Brouwer is so famous as a composer and arranger that it’s easy to forget that he was a splendid player in his prime, too.
As for the work itself, writer James Reel noted: “This is the climactic piece Piazzolla provided for his incidental music to the 1962 Alberto Rodriguez Muñoz play Tango del ángel, in which an angel heals the spirits of the residents of a shabby Buenos Aires neighborhood, but is ultimately killed in that most Argentine of pastimes, a knife fight. ” Piazzolla himself played the piece for many years (usually in a quintet, with him on bandoneon), occasionally in a suite along with two other tunes from the Muñoz play—Milongadel ángel (gorgeous on the Dukic disc) and Introducción delángel—plus an uplifting fourth work penned in 1965, Resurrección del ángel. Like so many Piazzolla works, it has been arranged for many different instruments and configurations through the years, including solo piano, piano and string orchestra, three pianos, four cellos; I’m sure the list goes on. But it works beautifully on guitar, so check out Brouwer playing his own arrangement. I haven’t been able to determine what year this performance is from. —Blair Jackson