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2009: Extasis Quartet

Claude Sim on Violin
Evan Orman on Bandoneón
Michael Tilley on Piano
Kenneth Harper on Double Bass

String Quartet: Rachel Segal on Violin, Justin Bruns on Violin,
Summer Rhodes on Viola, Eleanor Wells on Cello
Mike Tilley on Percussion
Claude Sim on Harpsichord

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 29, 2013

This CD is one of the best of authentic tango genre I have ever heard, among current recordings. I happen to have recordings of all tracks on Extasis played by the original Argentinean orchestras, and this quartet has captured the essence and electricity of the music, but without the static and tininess that one hears on original versions. All the music is composed and performed for danceable social and performance tango, with prominent pulse that leads the entwined dancing duo. Claude Sim, on violin, is astounding, as are Evan Orman on bandoneón, Michael Tilley on piano, and Kenneth Harper on double bass. The guest artists, as well, enhance the experience to such a degree that one wants to listen to these sumptuous tracks again and again. This CD will inspire the listener to register immediately for tango lessons. It was impossible to choose among the 13 exquisite tracks, but four are featured below.

Notable tracks:

#3 – Desde El Alma – Composed by Rosa Melo Di Piuma. With Claude Sim on intoxicating violin, sharing the theme of this tango “vals” with his full string quartet, then piano, then bandoneón, back and forth, the track takes on fascination and swirling dervish. I have danced many times to this music, with its turning motifs, and the rhythm is essential to the propulsion of tango. Here it is more than perfect. And, at one point, two violins share the solo, then cello, then with viola, a wonderful surprise.

#5 – Canaro in Paris – Composed by Alejandro Scarpino/Juan Caldarella. This popular and rapidly paced tango instrumental is often used in showcase tango. It can also be danced in the happier and speedier “milonga” version or in traditional tango style. On this track, there is variation in tempo, mainly for listening enjoyment, with elongated violin and earthy bass solos, but it’s fully danceable and tremendously imaginative. Evan Orman on bandoneón, Michael Tilley on piano, Claude Sim on violin, and Kenneth Harper on bass keep the beat in accented cadence. In fact, each takes a meandering solo, while the ensemble backs the repetitive tempo. .

#7 – A Los Amigos – Composed by Armando Pontier. This track is equal to the professionalism of a symphony hall performance. At this point in the CD, even much sooner, the listener is aware of the seasoned professionalism of this quartet and guest artists. The traditional tango piece heard on this track is rendered with enormous respect and challenging interpretations. The tempo is compelling for dance; while the bandoneón blazes or tiptoes through the pulse, the piano, bass, and violin take the theme to prodigious variations.

#11 – A Evaristo Carriego – Composed by Eduardo Rovira. Claude Sim has found the emotional essence of this poignant piece, another popular social tango song. It’s imbued with yearning and soulfulness, and the violin solo here is the counterpart of the heart string. The bandoneón is quintessentially suspenseful, while the bass is vivid and the piano is powerful. Kudos to Extasis.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at