Piazzolla, Guitarra, Bandoneón y Orquesta de Cuerdas-Alondra de la Parra & Orchestre de París

Astor Piazzolla:
Double concerto pour guitare, bandoneón et orchestre à cordes
Konzert für Bandoneon, Gitarre und Streichorchester

Hola a todos. This Double Concerto for Guitar, Bandoneón and Orchestra by Piazzolla is a lovely piece and the musicians of Orchestre de París looked like they enjoyed performing it. Some were intently watching their scores, such as the cellists. Listening to this music immediately brought to mind Don Hermes and Doña Julia of the world’s best-ever telenovela. I’m talking about the late Fernando Gaitán’s Yo Soy, Betty la Fea. Hard to believe Gaitán is dead. Well the same for Doña Catalina, one of the main characters who helped Betty tremendously. Gaitán died at the end of enero/January 2019 of a heart attack. I think at the time he was the head of Canal RCN, the television and radio network in Colombia that produced Betty la Fea. Also, Gaitán kept Jorge Enrique Abello busy after his major role as Don Armando in Betty and the sequel Eco Moda. Betty is currently showing again in Bogotá, to the largest audience ever from what I read even though the telenovela is about 20 years old as of this writing. I sensed that Gaitán wrote it so that it wouldn’t easily date itself. Thinking back on it, only the phones they used in the telenovela date themselves compared to what we have today. When the original Betty premiered, the entire nation of Colombia shut down to watch it. I think the same thing is happening now. Los Colombianos were/are mesmerised by it. How could you not be? It’s a masterpiece and fascinating from the start with 169 capítulos/chapters/episodes, and the incidental music Gaitán chose for particular scenes throughout was a very major part of the telenovela. Everyone knows the music used for El Cartel or for when Betty wrote in her diario/diary. I’ve seen Betty a few times and can watch it over and over, especially El Cartel (Eco Moda’s secretarial pool) and their antics. Running off to have a “May Day, May Day” (which Sandra said en inglés/in English) meeting in their conference room (the bathroom). Berta and her comida/food. Watching Berta do the “office glide” to slide over and gossip with Sophia sitting next to her about something. And her hair flips with Patricia. There have been many spin-offs of Betty (each country doing their own). I’ve seen parts of the version produced by México, and I didn’t like it because it just wasn’t like the original. It was too forced. They tried to hard to be funny, which is not at all the way the original Betty is. In the original Betty, everything seemed very natural and like you would really see in any office or home.

Listening to the music in this performance from Paris, can’t you just hear Don Hermes yelling, ” ¡Julia!” (pronounced: hoo-lyah) as he pages her somewhere else in the Beatrice Pinzón-Solano household. Pinzón is the surname for Hermes and Solano is the surname for Julia. For those who know nothing about Latin culture, “Don” is not his name. (It’s not like the English word “Don.”) The same for Doña. They are terms of respect, such as Don Armando or Don Mario. Don Hermes. Or Don Juan. Just as in Betty, all the male executives were referred to as “Doctor” and “Doctora” for females, even though none of them may have had Doctorate degrees. It was just a term of respect. Although you have to be careful about using Don and Doña outside of Colombia. I once referred to a female from Guatemala as Doña, and she got offended. She said, “that makes me sound old.” I never said that again to her. There are regional differences in language usage throughout América Latina. But in Betty la Fea, nearly all females were referred to as Doña regardless of their age (young model-type Doña Marcela, the same for young model-type Doña Catalina). Now our beloved Patricia Fernández with her six semesters of Finacero at San Marino Universidad — which she told everybody about that she came in contact with to impress them — was not referred to as Doña however. El Cartel often referred to Patricia as la Peliteñida, not quite the term of respect she demanded. Few people had any respect for Patricia, who never had any la plata/money even though she always pretended she did and was of the upper class, while Betty was not. Of course there was Betty’s friend, Nicolás Mora (played superbly by Mario Duarte) — one of the most important and funniest characters in the telenovela — who was enamored with Patricia for awhile. “Chau, chau” Nicolás would say.

I’ve watched/heard the superb Orchestre de París before in other performances. The First Concertmaster is the same guy as in their other performances. Nice and interesting to see them performing some music by Piazzolla, and most of them looked like they enjoyed themselves and were especially interested in the bandoneón, which is a type of concertina particularly popular in Argentina and Uruguay. It is an essential instrument in most tango ensembles from the traditional orquesta típica of the 1910s onwards. And these two soloists are outstanding.

Mi amigo/My friend studied the guitar many years ago and this style of playing in this performance is a bit different than how he was trained. For example, mi amigo was never taught to use vibrato on guitar. It would make sense that you could since it’s used on other string instruments (string and other instruments). He was also taught never to use the guitar as a percussion instrument, although percussion guitar is a type of training. Some things that one is taught might need to later be re-thought because they make no sense. One thing I was taught that I later changed was that “You never put your thumb on a black key in Bach.” Not sure who came up with that ridiculous rule, but it was something I was taught before entering the Conservatory. Interesting that the same piano instructor was the teacher who prepared me extremely well for my audition. I remember that the Piano Faculty jury in the Conservatory told me at the end of my audition to tell my piano instructor that she had done a good job. That sort of made me think that I had been accepted, and hearing that made her day. This excellent performance below was probably the highlight of their day. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Musicians & Credits:

Alondra de la Parra – Directora

Richard Galliano – Bandoneón

Yamandu Costa- Guitarra

Orchestre de París, Director Musical – Paavo Järvi

Video – Jean-Pierre Loisil

ARTE France