Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dancing with (not under) the stars in Sprague Hall, and the Del Curto Quintet

The first courtyard concert of the Arts and Ideas Festival of 2012 was also the first of the long series scheduled indoors that we could recall, weather or not, to minimize the chances of disruption. It didn't stop a mistakenly taken intermission and the towing of cars out front on College Street during that intermission (emergency work, we would hope).
Despite those accommodations to fate, the Hector Del Curto Tango Quintet put on an outstanding show of jazzy, Argentinian tangos that had the crowd clapping long and loudly and finishing with a unanimous standing ovation.
Del Curto, the bandoneon-playing composer and arranger, was intense, funny and a perfect centerpiece. The man was a bit of a prodigy 20 years ago and worked with legends of Argentine tango  Arthur Piazzolla and Osvaldo Pugliese.
As one website puts it, the bandoneon is "An inanimate object possessing a mysterious 'personality' as it breathes in and out, it can sound like a choir of voices in a musician's hands."
Del Curto makes the homely squeeze-box instrument come alive, speaking back and forth to the wondrous piano statements by Alon Yavnai. Some of the tangos werejaw-dropping in melody, percussive effect and complexity.
Backed by Sami Merdinian (a Yale alum) on violin, Del Curto's wife Jisoo Ok on cello and Andrew Roitstein on bass, the quintet impressed a three-quarters-full Sprague Hall with the moving, dramatic and sensual music that was at times nostalgic and modern in effect.
The group had just returned from a satisfying engagement in Mexico, Del Curto said, and the next stop is the Blue Note in New York. Which means an alert New Haven audience seized a remarkable opportunity Tuesday evening. Not under the stars, alas, but splendid on its own.

No comments: