Bahia Blanca Music/Audio Sync, Osvaldo Fresedo (1961)

Osvaldo Fresedo (1897-1984) had a long career, starting as a bandoneonist in the 1910s. During the 1920-early 30s he led a sextet then a larger ensemble from the early 1930s through the late 1960s.

There are several “Fresedos”. The later recordings, from the mid 1950s on, are not his best, in my opinion. But that is true for many orquestas at that time, a function of changing tastes and politics. Late Fresedo tends to be too “large”, a constant big full sound, and too and sweet – cloying at times.

Take a look at this photo of Fresedo’s orquesta. (from Todo Tango.)
We can get a good idea about the sound such an ensemble would create. Strings dominate. Hence the prevalent lyricism in the sound. There is also a piano, a harp, a vibraphone (at the back, beside the bass), and two singers. There are only three bandoneons! Harp and vibraphone are unique to Fresedo. The bell-like ringing tone of the vibraphone is quite noticeable in many of the recordings.

Fresedo recorded Bahia Blanca in 1961. It is representative of his late period. The form is A-B-A-B-A, like Di Sarli’s. Other than that, the two interpretations are strikingly different. The is often beautifully done, at times overdone.

Fresedo, 1961 (audio only controls after the score):

Fresedo, audio only.

Compare with Di Sarli, here to follow with the music, or audio only, below.

Di Sarli.

Music that is smooth and connected, with a flowing character, often with a broad sweeping melody and gentle accompaniment.

Orchestration or instrumentation is how the instruments are used; which instruments are playing at any given time and what is their function, such as melodic, accompaniment, creating the pulse, linking phrases (fills).

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5 Responses to Bahia Blanca Music/Audio Sync, Osvaldo Fresedo (1961)

  1. Jantango says:

    It’s the vibraphone that tells me I’m listening to Fresedo’s orchestra. I never heard this version before. It’s so different from Di Sarli, whose mentor was Fresedo. Each orchestra has its own unique style.

  2. Bahia Blanca is one of the few tangos where the composition and the arrangement are hardly separable. Every note you change in the arrangement will make it sound “less”. Even though this tango is one of the most covered, there are no recordings that are fundamentally different. I did not know this Fresedo but I breathes Di Sarli in feel and pulse, even though the orchestration is more “evolved”. The arrangement is ambitious but not strikingly different – not like El Choclo by D’Arienzo and Di Sarli for instance.

    I do not like the recording so much – like most orchestral recordings from the sixties it is a bit decadent and not very stimulating. The arranger has tried to step away from Di Sarli’s perfect recording and is doomed to fail.

    Other recordings of Bahia Blanca I can think of are by Florindo Sassone (Di Sarli twice as large) and Leopoldo Federico (where the introduction suggests more difference from the original than it actually is). Contemporary orchestras and smaller groups attempt to perform the original arrangement very very often, but rarely come close to the unique spirit of the Di Sarli Orchestra.

    The piano score you used is a reduction of the original recording. It follows the arrangement but simplifies so the buyers in the 50’s would be able to play it at home. The Di Sarli Orchestra worked without any sheet music. (Says the late Alfredo Marcucci who was part of the orchestra for the last years).

    • tangomonkey says:

      Thanks for your comments. Personally I find the two version very different in so many ways. I’m not a fan of the Fresedo either and agree about the 1960s overall. The D’Arienzo vals I wrote about a few days ago is an exception. “Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos”, 1965

      Yes, piano sheet music is a simplification, a template or skeleton only. Have you read my bit about piano sheet music, Dealing with Limitations, and how I use it, My Process?

      Printed music for each instrument would have been used during rehearsals, especially for new arrangements. Once the musicians knew their parts they wouldn’t need the music anymore. And in the milongas they could play from memory.

  3. I found your blog while I was trying to find a good picture of Fresedo’s orchestra. And it was a good find! I will subscribe to your blog. You mention that “harp and vibraphone are unique to Fresedo.” This is true, but not the vibraphone. OTV uses the vibraphone too but not as nicely as Fresedo. My theory is that the vibes were in the studio, and OTV decided to add a few notes to “Temo.” There are other examples, I have heard while dancing, but they do not come to mind. I just finished a blog post on the vibraphone in tango if you are interested. Google “tango-therapist” and a search engine is at the top left. Date posted is 26 Oct 2015.

    • tangomonkey says:

      Yes, you are correct, not unique – but almost entirely so. In the OTV example the instrument adds nothing really, just a chord in the background now and then. I’m not aware of other examples – nothing comes to mind – but of course that doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

      Please let me know if you find more examples. Thanks

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