Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Astor Piazzolla Plays Milonga del Angel

One of the perennial favorites of pianists at the RCM/NMCP Grade 8 level is Astor Piazzolla's Milonga del angel. One of the things that I always like to impart when teaching this piece is just how important it is to get a feel of what this incredible Argentine dance form sounds like in its original form in order to recreate the style at the piano.

Here is the legendary Astor Piazzolla (on bandoneĆ³n) and friends performing Milonga del angel:


  1. Great idea, Chris....

    The piece is often played too fast it seems and can get out of control in the middle section. The sultriness of the Tango bar (in the Historic district of Buenos Aires?) is often missing. And this video also reminds the pianist to think orchestrally -- what instrument is playing the bass line, for example.

    On another subject, I 'm looking for a good group piano method book for (high school) teens here in Toronto. Do you or other bloogers have your faves? I currectly use Alfred Basic Adult method, but am getting horribly bored with it.

    All the best,


  2. Thanks for the comment, Murray. I use the Faber Adult Piano Adventures, which is equally successful in either the classroom or studio. The only problem with Faber (or any adult method for that matter) is that they get a bit too formulaic after a while and you end up needing to supplement more and more as you move through the method.

  3. I like getting my students to watch tangos on youtube to get a better sense of the style. My one student who studied this in the past year concluded that there needs to be strong emotions - tender passion tempered with near violent passion.

    On another note, have any of you had trouble tracking down the Adult Piano Adventures books? My newest adult student was told the books are out of print by one store and someone else told her that there were copyright issues and that's why the books have been pulled.

  4. Yes this is indeed true. F and F cannot sell the adult method in Canada.

  5. I had an older teen-ager (already an accomplished violinst) in the Faber Adult and her comment midway through was "When can I start playing in a key that's not C Major?" The arrangements of the classics are decent, but otherwise, like Chris said, very formulaic very quickly, with not enough attention to the LH outside the primary chords. I switched her to Artistry at the Piano by Mary Gae George and all is well. From what I've seen, most adult methods are similar. I've never done an adult group, though - not sure what I would try in that situation.

    I love the recording of Milonga by Quartango and make all my students listen to it who are learning this - although I try to stay away from using this as an exam piece!