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Astor Piazzolla: A Memoir Paperback – March 1, 2003
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From Library Journal
In 1990, Buenos Aires-based journalist Gorin interviewed his friend Astor Piazzolla over the course of three days, just months before the famous Argentine bandoneon player and composer of tangos was stricken by a debilitating stroke. This book is the edited transcription of those sessions (including helpful annotations from the translator), with additional material from letters written by Piazzolla and reminiscences of some of his associates and fellow musicians. While he holds forth, the cosmopolitan Piazzolla, raised in New York and schooled partly in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, comes across as egoist, imp, and impassioned musician. Ever the performer, he boasts, confesses, pays homage to, and bitterly complains about people in turn. Gorin's chapter summarizing Piazzolla's life and significance as well as the commentaries of others are dry in contrast. Recommended as a supplement for libraries already owning Maria Susana Azzi and Simon Collier's Le Grand Tango: The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla (LJ 4/1/00). (Index not seen.) Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Libs., College Park
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Excellent notes and annotations by translator Fernando Gonzalez make this the definitive volume of this still-underrated 20th century giant. -- Stephanie von Buchau, Bay Area Reporter , December 20, 2001
His informal and honest voice dominates this book, as it should. Nothing feels prettified or varnished here. -- Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare
Reading this book feels like the privilege of being in the same room as Piazzolla and Gorin. -- Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare
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I like this format. Natalio Gorin's interviews with El Troesma are not the chronological, blow by blow account of Piazzolla's life I expected. Gorin asks some questions, but in a series of interviews generally allows Piazzolla to warm to whatever topic develops and then expand on it as the spirit moves him. He only prompts Piazzolla at times when he wants to steer the conversation in a particular direction, such as Piazzolla's politics or his love life.
This is really a tremendous work. One can feel Piazzolla's struggles as he describes his many clashes with the tango establishment and his constant fight to make a place for himself in Argentine and world music. Particularly interesting is the chapter in which he talks about numerous well-known musicians and those who influenced him, and those for whom he felt contempt. Particularly poignant is his relationship with the great bandoneonist Anibal Troilo who would often criticize Piazzolla's work, but at the same time express great affection and admiration for him.
I am amazed at the passions of his audiences whenever he would introduce new elements into his work. That people would actually riot and threaten a musician with death boggles the mind, but I am sure that reactions like that only more firmly convinced Piazzolla of the rightness of his course. Piazzolla was a fighter and he answered his critics not only with his fists, but with one musical masterpiece after another.
After Piazzolla is through talking, the book winds up with Gorin tying up loose ends and analyzing some of Piazzolla's greatest triumphs and greatest disappointments. He also takes a number of swipes at Aldo Pagani, a man Gorin considers to be Piazzolla's Rasputin. Gorin's conclusion is then followed by a couple of short commentaries by some of Piazzolla's collaborators and a discography of Piazzolla's recordings.
I highly recommend this book both by itself and as a complement to Le Grand Tango as a guide to understanding one of the greatest and most complex musician/composers of the 20th century.