Friday, November 3, 2017

Cantando en ruso @ Buena Vista Social Bar

A milonga with all the classic Argentine songs being sung ... in translation from Castellano? Well, consider our last month's joint project with a fellow tango translator Natalia Orlova a proof of principle. We got 5 real tandas, plus a little primer on tango poetry and its history, and people listened and danced and we had an awesome experience - and then left the stage to a regular milonga DJ with a sweet feeling of satisfaction and knowing that a lot more can be done and there is plenty of room for development.
Natalia Orlova started translating tangos into Russian (as well as Ukrainian and English!) almost a decade ago, just as I was discovering the rhythmical beauty of the Spanish ballad which informs the compas and the phrasing of all genres of tango music, and the lively slang of the port city songs, and the crazy quilt of topics sung about in tango - profound and profane, melancholic and merry, spanning from the eternal themes of love and loss and nostalgia to sports, fights, card games, booze, politics, and much, much humble country living. Natalia has become my mentor as I also started trying to make Argentine songs ring in my beautiful native language. And I swear I wouldn't have fallen in love with tango without this experience!
But now, fast-forward to 2017. I was going to Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine for a family-roots search expedition, but of course I packed lots of tango into the trip plans ... and I also decided to give multimedia presentations on tango poetry, in the mold of "Chamuyo de gotán: time travel through tango history with the lyrics of its songs", but in Russian. I hasten to add that, alas, I can't sing :) so for my first gig in Tyumen, Siberia I settled on just reciting the snippets of the translations. But Natalia isn't shy about singing. I knew that she occasionally sang her tango translations, accompanied by her guitar. What if...?
Chamuyando en Siberia....
Brainstorming the plan, we decided to use real orchestra music (a combination of instrumental pieces, vocal tangos with sufficiently long instrumental-only segments, and vocalist backing tracks which I spliced together from the classic vocal recordings). We boldly decided to go for a real tanda format, with alternating T / V / M sets, and some talk-through in pauses. In reality, my beautiful co-conspirator and vocalist has been delayed by a stuck elevator snafu and atrocious traffic, so I had to start from improvising alone. I played a few warm-up tandas , then shifted much of the talk to the beginning of the presentation, and we ended up completing the whole plan exactly on time, Whew!
01. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental "Shusheta" 1940 2:22
02. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental  "Catamarca" 1940 2:23
03. Carlos di Sarli - Instrumental "La trilla" 1940 2:21
04. Viktor Tsoy  "Kukushka cortina long"  0:55
05. Juan  D'Arienzo - Instrumental "Joaquina" 1935 3:01
06. Juan  D'Arienzo - Instrumental "El Internado" 1938 2:31
07. Juan  D'Arienzo - Instrumental "Ataniche" 1936 2:32
08. Mammas and the Papas  "California Dreaming cortina long"  0:40
09. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos "Quien Sera" 1941 2:15
10. Edgardo Donato - Horacio Lagos, Lita Morales y Romeo Gavio "Estrellita Mia" 1940 2:36
11. Edgardo Donato - Félix Gutierrez "La Tapera" 1936 2:54
12.  Time to start! Introducing the first tango with recorded score, the 1880s' Mendisabal's "Entrerriano", which signaled the transition from tangos played by ear to the written, and printed, compositions.
13. D'Arienzo, Juan  "El Entrerriano" 1963 2:39
14.  However, unlike the musical scores, the lyrics - and sometimes the very titles - of the tangos remained un-printed - and largely unprintable - for the decades to come. Case in point: "La c...ara de la l...una", one of the liveliest tangos of all times, composed by an Uruguayan police telegrapher Campoamor in 1901 as a hymn to a whore's vagina (hence the conspicuous ellipses in its bowdlerized official title).
15. Quinteto Pirincho - Instrumental "La C...ara De La L...una" 1951 2:53
16.  At last, exactly 100 years ago, the poets take up the case of tango. The great Pascual Contursi writes lyrics of "My sad night", "Mi noche triste", and the great Carlos Gardel performs it from the stage! The first tango poem bears all the hallmarks of the future tango, highlighting the despair of a lost love in thick Lunfardo slang. Listening to Gardel's voice in a later, better quality recording - and then in a XXI century remix!
17. Carlos Gardel (con guitarras)  "Mi Noche Triste" 1930 3:19
18. Otros Aires  "Percanta" 2005 5:01
19. Finally, Natalia Orlova at the mike! We start from the epoch when the vocal tangos entered, gingerly, into the milonga (for the first decade after the debut of "Mi noche triste", the vocal tangos remained solely a listening music, but then singers known as estrebellistas started singing for the dancers, at first just the few lines of the bridge known as estribillo ... then perhaps a bridge and one stanza... and then even more...). All the vocals en ruso and the specially-cut backing tracks are available on Google drive. (UPD: open sharing of the raw vocal recordings, with my and Natalia's backstage conversations captured in the tracks, have been voted down for now :) Eventually, these recordings will be remixed back with the original backing tracks, and released one by one. At the moment, only "Milonga del 900 en ruso" is ready for prime time. The custom backing "minus" tracks are still available below.). The translations can be found at the sister blog, "Letras de tango en ruso". Please don't judge us too harshly, remember that it's intended as a proof-of-principle only :)
20. Quinteto Pirincho - Instrumental "La payanca" 1964 3:00
21. Sexteto Carlos di Sarli - Ernesto Famá "Chau pinela" 1930 2:36
22. Adolfo Carabelli - vocalist backing version "Pa' que lagrimear minus2" 1933 2:37
23. Leonid Utesov  "S Odesskogo kichmana (cortina)" 1935 0:22
24.  Introducing the Milonga Portena, the rebirth of an ancient song genre as a song for the dancers. The 2nd and 3rd milongas are Natalia's translations!
25. Francisco Canaro - Ernesto Famá (backing track)   "Milonga del 900 minus acc6" 1933 2:59
(This is the one song with an "official" Russian track at the moment - Listen here )
26. Quinteto Pirincho - Instrumental "Se dice de mi" 1954 2:52 Youtube here

27. Lucio Demare - Raul Beron (backing track) "Carnavalito minus extended" 1943 4:34
28. Soda Stereo  "Corazon elator"  0:28
29. The Great Depression and the near-death of tango. Survival in exile, memories of the harsh times, triumphant return in the late 1930s...
30. Edgardo Donato - vocalist backing track version "Triqui-tra minus" 1940 2:32
31. Orquesta Típica Víctor (dir. Adolfo Carabelli) - Ernesto Famá  "Carrillón de la Merced" 1931
32. The vals tanda has a special, sentimental quality. These are some of our earliest translations, and I believe that it was the humorous and playful "Cuando estaba enamorado" which opened the way into tango for myself - and Natalia Orlova's translation of "Corazon De Oro, my inspiration. In turn, Natalia says she still chokes back tears when she sings "Barrio de Belgrano, caseron de tejas...". While for me, this great vals and her translation introduced me to a great blogger Tamas Sajo who later mentored my first steps in blogging and set me on the path of studying tango history - and my own family history.
33. Francisco Canaro - Francisco Amor "Cuando Estaba Enamorado" 1940 2:46
34. Silencio Tango Orchestra - Instrumental "Caseron de Tejas" 2009 2:36
35. Francisco Canaro - chorus "Corazon De Oro" 1938 3:23
36. Soda Stereo  "Profugos"  0:33
And I finally get to dance - to the "Loca"!
37. Mature, melodic, sad tango takes hold in the 1940s, and Malena, beautifully translated by Natalia Orlova, is the harbinger of this epoch. The remaining 2 songs of the set are among my darkest, most brooding translations.
38. Octeto Tibidabo - Instrumental "Malena" 1991 2:39
39. Octeto Tibidabo - Instrumental "Garua" 1991 2:38
40. Carlos Di Sarli - Roberto Rufino "Verdemar" 1943 2:54
41. Sandro de America  "Yo te amo cortina long"  0:44
And for the closing track, before theregular milonga starts, Natalia chooses her signature "Loca". I prepared a backing track based on D'Arienzo's famous 1946 recording, but at the last moment we settled on Canaro's version which is only a touch less extreme.
42. Quinteto Don Pancho - Instrumental "Loca" 1938 2:57

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