Héctor Del Curto’s Tango Quartet
The elegant, subtle, and intensely passionate Argentine music and dance called tango could find no higher expression than through the superb artistry of bandoneónist Héctor Del Curto and his ensemble. A virtuoso player of the bandoneón, an accordion of German origin that is the driving force and central instrument in tango orchestras, Del Curto masterfully leads his quartet and dancers through the intricacies of one of Argentina’s most famous musical exports that is today experiencing a worldwide revival.
During the late 1800s, Argentina’s capital port city of Buenos Aires was a multicultural mix of Europeans, criollos, Africans, and Indigenous peoples. As is often the case, it was in the city’s bars and brothels where the musical traditions of these diverse groups first began to mingle. One of the exciting hybrid forms that emerged from these cultural encounters was tango. First embraced by the working classes, tango struggled to find an audience in other social circles. Its popularity eventually spread, and by the beginning of the 20th century, tango found its way to the European continent. The craze that subsequently swept Europe dramatically changed how tango was viewed by many of the unconverted at home; as interest broadened in this provocative dance, tango became fashionable among Argentine social, cultural, and political elites. The 1920s ushered in the Golden Age of Tango, a period of creativity that produced legendary artists and permanently added the bandoneón to tango orchestras. Tango became a national symbol of Argentina.
The Del Curto family has been a part of Argentine tango history through much of the form’s development. In the early 1900s, Héctor’s great-grandfather was a bandoneón player and composer in the Orquesta Típica Jazz Del Curto-Taranto. The musical torch then passed to Héctor’s grandfather, who introduced him to the instrument. By age 17, Héctor had mastered the bandoneón and won the title of “Best Bandoneón Player under 25” in Buenos Aires. This honor ultimately led to the opportunity for Héctor to play with the late Osvaldo Pugliese, whose tango orchestra was one of the most prestigious in the world. In describing Del Curto’s music, critics have nearly exhausted their seemingly inexhaustible supply of adjectives. Writer Adam Harrington summed it up this way: “Del Curto stuns us with his virtuosity; it will leave you breathless.”
Del Curto’s latest explorations of the tango have been centered in New York, now one of the largest tango communities outside of Buenos Aires. With Pablo Ziegler, a fellow New Yorker and pianist who worked extensively with Ástor Piazzolla, Del Curto won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album.
Héctor will bring his top-flight Tango Quartet to Salisbury, featuring Gustavo Casenave on piano; Jisoo Ok, an accomplished cellist and Héctor’s wife; and their talented son, Santiago, on clarinet. The ensemble is rounded out by two leading tango dancers from Miami, who will demonstrate the dramatic and intricate movements of Argentina’s beloved tango.