The bandoneon is the Argentinean relative of the piano accordion we associate with polkas, and of the bayan, the button accordion found in some Russian classical music. It is probably harder to play than either, and consequently bandoneonists are not exactly a dime a dozen. In addition, Piazzolla's music is so exacting jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton has said it was the hardest music he had ever played that even if you find a bandoneonist, he might not be able to handle it. The Phoenix Ensemble has found one equal to the task. Peter Soave is an acknowledged master of both the bayan and the bandoneon, having won numerous international competitions, and is a highly regarded proponent of Piazzolla's music. For this year's concerts at Kerrytown Concert House on Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19, Soave will join a Phoenix Ensemble octet, comprising violin, cello, flute, piano, bass, electric guitar, and percussion, that closely mirrors the instrumental lineup of groups Piazzolla himself led.
The concerts will feature Derek Snyder's arrangements of some of Piazzolla's most widely recorded pieces, like "Adiós Nonino," the aching elegy he composed after his father's death, and lesser-known works like "Canto de Octubre," which has never been recorded. Sold-out Concert House audiences the past two years have attested both to the enduring power of Piazzolla's music and to the authority with which the Phoenix Ensemble plays it.
[Originally published in March, 2005.]