01 Oct 2020

BRAGATO: Malambo

by Michael Clive

The composer José Bragato has been described as “the most famous cellist in the history of the tango” — placing him in the company of composer Victor Herbert, conductor Arturo Toscanini and mega-producer John Goberman, all major international music figures who began their careers as cellists.

Bragato was born in 1915 in the Italian town of Udine and emigrated as child to Buenos Aires, where he studied at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música Manuel de Falla. He was soon given the post of solo-cellist of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires and performed until 1968 in the orchestra of the Teatro Colon. He was also a member of various Argentinean and Brasilian chamber music and folk music ensembles.

Astor Piazzolla valued Bragato’s musicianship so highly that he integrated him into his various tango-nuevo ensembles. The trust which grew between the two musicians during their years together also led to José Bragato transcribing and archiving many of Piazzolla’s compositions. Malambo is one of his own compositions and, of course, it features the cello. The name refers to both a group dance for men only, and a volcano (located in the Philippines and currently inactive). You’ll hear why.