The Return of the Tango
Stas Venglevski performs with Frankly Music. And no, that's not an accordion he plays.
Pleasant memories of the last collaboration by Frankly Music with bayan virtuoso Stas Venglevski still linger. So it’s hard to believe it was actually five years ago that violinist Frank Almond collaborated with Venglevski in an evening devoted to the tango. And its great news that this Monday’s concert reunites them, performing together along with cellist Roza Borisova and pianist Jeannie Yu in a mixed quartet. His bayan might be mistaken for the usual accordion, but the many buttons that replace the keyboard allow for a confounding number of options. The instrument delivers a range and purity fit for classical composition. The evening belongs to Almond’s special guest, as Stas has selected works and transcribed them for the quartet.
Stas has been familiar to local audiences since moving from Moldovia to Milwaukee in 1992. But today he travels more than ever. Touring takes him to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, a Caribbean cruise and the western United States in the coming months. He recently returned from concerts in Russia, site of his academic studies.
The concert promises to be a wide ranging exploration of the tango, the dance that swept the world in the mid-20th century, driven by Hollywood films. Variations from home-base Argentina and across South America and and over to Denmark will be represented. The dance rhythms were captured in more classical forms by Astor Piazzolla whose infectious compositions appear in countless transcriptions. Piazzolla was able to draw out the dark side of the tango tradition – a regret or sorrow belied by the spirited sensual melodies. A recent work by Russian composer Tatyana Sergeyeva, “Dark Rose,” incorporates a broader palette of rhythms. This concert will touch on all of those traditions.
Stas improvises freely in many settings. How does this work with three classically trained players? Almond suggests that the trick is to get “past the squareness that sounds like classical musicians playing tango.” As Stas has written out the parts, he knows where his companions are and can decorate the works on the spot. Almond recognizes the challenge. “It is important to have a sense of the underpinning of the rhythm.” Almond has also felt comfortable introducing some improvisation as well. “I try not to play the same way every time, even if it is written down.”
This is the final program of the season for Frankly Music and will begin at 7:00 p.m. at Schwan Concert Hall at Wisconsin Lutheran College, 8815 W. Wisconsin Ave., Wauwautosa. Tickets ($35 reserved seating – $10 for students) may be purchased online or at the door. The concert may sell out.