Jofre: Como el Agua
Jofre: Sweet Dreams
Jofre: Rondo Malicioso - Ariadna Castellanos: piano
Jofre: After the Rain - Ariadna Castellanos: piano
Jofre: Tango Movements - Ariadna Castellanos: piano
Jofre: Bandoneon Cadenza (from Bandoneon Concerto) - Ariadna Castellanos: piano
Jofre: Universe - Ariadna Castellanos: piano
When genuinely puzzled people ask me what on earth possessed me to leave France for the US over two decades ago, I invariably reply in earnest that I was for the most part fleeing cigarette smoke and accordion music. So when on Friday afternoon my friend Amy mentioned out of the blue an informal "tango-classical-world music" concert featuring a cello, a piano and a bandoneón (The accordion's remote Argentinean cousin) in a church way uptown that same evening, I have to admit to a half-second of reluctance, but then I let my spirit of adventure take over and agreed that it would be an unusual - and interesting - way to get the weekend going.
That's how we found ourselves in the foreign territory that is for us Washington Heights, at which point she revealed to me that the concert would take place not in the nave of the Church of the Intercession, but in its crypt, which certainly added a not unwelcome touch of spookiness to our already out-of-the-box excursion. After finding the entrance to the massive church, walking around a lovely cloister and negotiating a maze of corridors and staircases, we did find the cozy little crypt, complete with vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows and urns in the wall, all ready for some live music.
If I had had any doubts about the cello and bandoneón pairing, they would have been quickly and forever dissipated as the short, well-rounded musical pieces were swiftly succeeding one another. Whether it was the engaging intricacies of "Preludio", the flowing dreaminess of "Como el Agua", the delicate harmonies of "Sweet Dreams" or the fierce hot-bloodedness of "Tangodromo", the cello's long chocolaty lines beautifully intertwined with the bandoneón's more upbeat sounds for a bold, fresh and totally winning combination.
Although the vast majority of the concert's works had been composed by JP Jofre, this series of duos ended with Piazzola's famous "Libertango", whose sensual and infectious rhythms soon resonated in all their glory thanks to Wendy Law's and JP Jofre's accomplished handling of the popular tune.
The excitement went up another notch when flamenco pianist Ariadna Castellanos, temporarily stepping out of her area of expertise, joined the cello and bandoneón for a few decidedly high-flying numbers. One of the highlights of the evening was hands-down "After the Rain", a masterly composition that confidently opened with the bandoneón at its most melancholic before the addition of the languorous cello and the wandering piano eventually led to a stunningly lyrical crescendo.
But I guess you cannot keep an Argentinean away from tango for too long, and the restless rhythms inherent to the world's sexiest dance irreverently filled up our small venue one more time with some vigorous "Tango Movements". When all was said and done, "Universe" ended our intimate musical feast with virtuosic sparks popping up all over the place.
Who would have thought that spending a Friday evening in a crypt would have been that much fun?