Thursday 3 December 2015

Tango Embrace

Yijia Zhang
Astor Piazolla; Yijia Zhang, Andrey Lebedev, Iosif Purits, Tomoyo Maruyama, Davide Mantovan, Beibei Wang, Carl Smith; EITO MUSIC
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Nov 20 2015
Star rating: 3.5

Debut album from young Chinese violinist explores the world of Astor Piazolla

This new disc from violinist Yijia Zhang and friends presents a series of attractive arrangements of music by Astor Piazzolla. Joining Zhang on the disc are guitarist Andrey Lebedev, accordion player Iosif Purits, Tomoyo Maruyama piano, Davide Mantovani double bass with Beibei Wang and Carl Smith percussion.

Born and raised in China, Yijia Zhang  has just graduated from the Royal Academy of Music. This disc makes a fine showcase for his talents as Astor Piazzolla's music is played in imaginative arrangements which all feature Zhang's elegantly lyrical violin tones. Guitarist Andrey Lebedev also features heavily, the two forming a fine duo. (Lebedev has recently been announced as one of the City Music Foundation's 2015 artists). The longest number on the disc, Cafe 1930 seems to be a duo for the two of them in a quietly elegant chamber music feel. Luckily the mood does not stay lyrically reflective for too long and Adios Nonino introduces us to Iosif Purit's lively accordion, which is also showcased in the more reflective Oblivion. There is a lovely rhythmic feel to Milonga del angel.

Yijia Zhang
Yijia Zhang
The mood of the music on the disc is bitter-sweet capturing that cafe delight and melancholy which is Astor Piazzolla's trademark. The arrangements are all nicely chamber with the music having a finely crafted intimate feel. It helps that all the musicians are playing at the same level as Zhang and creating a strong sense of give and take in the music. One of the percussionists on the disc is Carl Smith who was one of the original founding members of the musical STOMP

If I have a criticism it is that music on the disc all reflects the bitter-sweet side of Pizazolla with melancholy elegance, there is none of the darker, harder edged music that he wrote. Even a number like Oblivion can be stronger and grittier than is played here.

The CD booklet includes lots of atmospheric pictures but manages to say precious little about the music and the performers which is somewhat frustrating.

This is Yijia Zhang's debut disc and it is a fine one. There is much to enjoy but this is very much late-night cocktail bar Piazzolla; put the disc on, lower the lights and pour yourself a Manhattan.

Tango Embrace
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) - Bordel 1900
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) - Cafe 1930
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) - Adios Nonino
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) - Oblivion
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) - Tanti Anni Prima
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) - Reviarado
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) - Francanapa
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) - Milonga del Angel
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) - Libertango
Yijia Zhang (violin)
Andrey Lebedev (guitar)
Iosif Purits (accordion)
Tomoyo Maruyama (piano)
Davide Mantovani (double bass)
Beibei Wang (percussion)
Caral Smith (percussion)
Recorded at Master Chord studio, 2015
EITO MUSIC E00006 1CD [44.27]

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