Passion: the word that best sums up the life and music of Astor Piazzolla. Too “classical” for proponents of the tango tradition, yet too “traditional” for twentieth-century avant-gardists, Piazzolla infused new passion into a genre crying out for reinvention. His work met with great enthusiasm in both Europe and Japan, and it stirred such fervor in Piazzolla’s native Argentina that he occasionally met with threats and even violence for his radical ideas.
After training with Argentine great Alberto Ginastera, Piazzolla moved to Paris and studied under the legendary Nadia Boulanger (who also taught—among many other luminaries—Michel Legrand, Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, and Philip Glass), whose encouragement proved pivotal in shaping Piazzolla’s artistic aspirations. His tango nuevo revitalized the form, adding new instruments and expanding the harmonic and melodic possibilities of tango for the generations to come.
Through interviews and concert footage (including with Gidon Kremer, Latvian violin virtuoso who has continued to champion Piazzolla’s music), this film by Christopher Nupen—music documentarian par excellence—offers a vivid portrait of a dynamic figure who so perfectly straddled the intersection of improvisation, interpretation, and composition.