|The Soledad quintet stems from Belgium and combines five young classically trained musicians with a love for Astor Piazzolla's tango nuevo. On Del Diablo, Soledad combines pieces by Piazzolla with those of three other contemporary tango composers.
The first four tracks are Piazzolla tunes performed by Manu Comté on accordion and bandoneon; Nicolas Stevens on violin; Alexander Gurning on piano; Patrick Schuyer on various guitars and Philippe Cormann on bass. Soledad plays these compositions in a clean manner that we should perhaps call European Tango - cooler than the Argentine version, like a Van Gogh painting from Arles painted under a northern sky. The appropriate intention, mastery and the overall picture are all here, just different in hue. Alas, the dynamics are formidable indeed.
The next four tracks are arrangements of Alberto Iglesias pieces, a composer mostly known for film scores like Pedro Aldomovar's "La flor de mi secreto", sections of which make appearances here. While this music might work for film, it simply isn't very involving on its own.
Piazzolla returns with the "Concerto para Quinteto" wherein Soledad proves that it wasn't their playing that flattened the Iglesias results - this piece really gets you involved. The interaction between the five players as demanded by Piazzolla and the precise timing exchanges are palpable, with good dynamics and recording values. Next follow two pieces by Belgian composer Daniel Capelletti who combines Mambo, Salsa and Calypso into what he calls a suite of imaginary dances, with the first part rhythmic and angularly tangoesque, the second more rounded like a waltz.
Belgian colleague Fréderic Devreese contributes to the last three tracks and it is here were the flood gates burst. Fiery staccatos, dissonant intervals and flexible tempi make these the most interesting pieces of the album. The combination of Tango and modern music is stunning and allows Soledad to really show off their chops. Here is music that grips you by the shorthairs and doesn't let go. A deep emotion arises and feels like a glowing ball inside your solar plexus. Listening to the tension now so obviously present makes you breathe more deeply and whisks you into another state of mind. Musical enlightenment? Exactly.
Del Diablo is a CD Soledad can be proud of. The opening is cleanly executed but it's the ending that's full of fire and commitment, making us hope that Soledad will bring on more Devreese on the next outing. The remaining critique has nothing to do with Soledad but with EMI/Virgin. The CD we bought in Paris is copy-controlled. The logo saying so was hidden under the price sticker. If visible at the point of purchase, we never would have taken this record. Copy-controlled CDs don't conform to RedBook standards. They are corrupted. When you look at the data side of the CD, you'll see a clear blank line. This marks the copy-controlled barrier. Most -- but not all -- audio players won't have a problem. Alas, the disc won't play in your car - at least it didn't in ours. Even the latest version of Exact Audio Copy was caught in the trap. After some googling, we found that WinDAC32 was the answer. After a quick download, we were able to create a perfect and legal copy for our own use. Copy-controlled CDs are merely an unnecessary hassle and don't prevent anyone from making copies.