Orquesta El Arranque and Hernán Lucero | The Auditorium, Rome | 9 September, 2010

Now in its third edition, the Buenos Aires Tango Festival, a 12 day celebration of tango in all its forms, has returned to the Auditorium Parco della Musica with a series of concerts, dance lessons and events introducing tango musicians, singers and dancers to Italian audiences. Every evening the Cavea is transformed into an open air Milonga with tango demonstrations and an open invitation for the public to dance beneath the stars.

As somebody with an admittedly sketchy knowledge of tango, but with a healthy addiction to live music, I initially headed over to see Orquesta El Arranque, a seven piece tango orchestra performing in Sala Sinopoli last night, out of curiosity, only to find myself bowled over by the brilliance of these musicians. At times it was hard to believe that the complexities of layered sound were being produced by only two bandoneóns (played by Camilo Ferrero and Ramiro Boero), two violins (Guillermo Rubino and Gustavo Mulé), a double bass, piano and guitar (played by Ignacio Varchausky, Ariel Rodríguez and Martín Vázquez respectively) – the impact of El Arranque's sound was so immense!

Photo © Auditorium Parco della Musica
In an evening entitled Milongueros de hoy: La música de Leopoldo Federico, they played several pieces by Leopoldo Federico, one of the world's most influential exponents of the bandoneón. Better known as a musician than composer, Federico collaborated with El Arranque on their last album, which features new versions of some of the musician's lesser know work. This was a voyage of discovery for me, so unfortunately, I can't provide any details of the setlist... other than to say that it was thrilling music, sophisticated yet immediate at the same time.

And there were yet more discoveries to be made! Invitied onto the stage to join El Arranque at various moments throughout the evening, we were also treated to the entirely captivating voice of the tango singer Hernán Lucero. Part of a new generation of tango singers on the contemporary scene in Buenos Airies, Lucero's voice evokes music from the golden era of tango and his charismatic stage presence and matinée idol good looks only serve to compound the dramatic effect! What a star...I could have listened to him all evening! We were also lucky enough to bump into him outside after the show, where he graciously shook hands and signed an autograph.

Buenos Aires Tango is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires in collaboration with Fondazione Musica per Roma and continues at the Auditorium Parco della Musica until 19 September, 2010.