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A celebration of the Piazzolla centenary with Juanjo Mosalini, Gisele Ben-Dor and the Boston Pro Arte CO of Boston - gets 4 stars from Fanfare

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Piazzolla: Cien Años (Centaur) commemorates the 100th birthday of the Argentine bandoneón virtuoso and composer Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). Bandoneón soloist Juanjo Mosalini joins the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, under the direction of its Conductor Emerita, Gisèle Ben-Dor. The recording opens with Piazzolla's bandoneón concerto, Aconcagua. Four world premiere recordings follow, all, like Aconcagua, scored here for bandoneón and orchestra. First is Mosalini's vibrant Tomá, Tocá (Take It, Play It), dedicated to Tomás Gubitsch, an electric guitarist who performed with Piazzolla. Mosalini composed the reflective Cien Años (One Hundred Years) in memory of his grandfather. The timing of the work's creation also coincides with the Piazzolla centenary. Mosalini's arrangements of Piazzolla's The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Cuatro Estacíones Porteñas) and Libertango conclude the disc. Cien Años and the arrangement of The Four Seasons were both commissioned by Ben-Dor. Mosalini is a superb instrumentalist, a technically brilliant artist whose playing is both unfailingly kinetic, and suave in tone and phrasing. It is seductive music making; and isn't that perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to an interpreter of tangos? Mosalini layers improvisational elements into Piazzolla's three-movement Aconcagua, certainly appropriate for the character of this music, and highly effective. Both Mosalini's Tomá, Tocá and Cien Años are brief, single-movement works that feature a convincing and beguiling synthesis of various popular and classical elements, very much in the Piazzolla tradition. Piazzolla composed the movements of the work now known as The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires separately, and over a period of about 5 years. It is now known as a unified work (sometimes a concert companion to Vivaldi's Le quattro stagioni) and has been arranged for various complements of instruments. In his arrangement for bandoneón and orchestra, Mosalini adds connective tissue so that that the four movements are performed without pause. It's a lovely effect, and one that fits into the work's 25-minute time span without strain. The disc concludes with a stirring rendition of one of Piazzolla's signature works, Libertango. Conductor Gisèle Ben-Dor has long been a superb advocate for Latin-American music. Here, she leads the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra in performances that are teeming with color, style, and irrepressible energy. The recording, which positions the listener in close proximity to the artists (but not oppressively so), packs considerable impact.  Both Pablo Aslan and Ben-Dor contribute lively and informative commentary for the CD booklet, which also includes artist bios. A worthy and highly engaging centenary tribute to the father of the Tango Nuevo. Recommended. - Ken Meltzer