QUINTANGO

"To: Buenos Aires With Love"

Independent

It's payback time for QuinTango, the newly reconstituted, Alexandria-based ensemble. The group dedicates its latest release to "the tango composers, arrangers and instrumentalists whose music we have loved, imitated and re-interpreted." With passion and grace, one might add, especially after hearing the delightfully multifaceted performances on "To: Buenos Aires With Love."

A collection of classic, comparatively obscure and recently written tangos, the CD pays alternately vibrant and soulful homage to several notable composers, among them Astor Piazzolla, Osvaldo Berlinghieri, Horacio Salgan and Julian Plaza. While the drama inherent in tango music is nearly always evident, many of these arrangements are laced with episodes marked by striking contrasts and shifting moods -- passages in which strings, bass, piano and, on occasion, bandoneon, juxtapose sharply rhythmic pulses with sheer lyricism. Particularly enjoyable is Piazzolla's "Adios Nonino," a seven-minute, suitelike arrangement that makes stirring and poignant use of the violins played by Joan Singer and Paula Akbar; and Carlo Gardel's "Volver," a performance richly colored by bandoneon player (and special guest) Daniel Diaz. Another highlight is "QuinTango," a piece written for the ensemble by Berlinghieri and a splendid showcase for cellist Jorge Espinoza and pianist Bruce Steeg, who passed away in October.

Elsewhere QuinTango is in splendid form, too, expertly heightening drama and passion when it isn't introducing unfettered melodic flights or some lighthearted, jazz-inflected interludes.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Saturday and Sunday at the Embassy of Argentina. * To hear a free Sound Bite from QuinTango, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8108. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)