Dino Saluzzi: El Encuentro

It’s no surprise that bandoneonist-composer Dino Saluzzi’s latest CD invites and rewards repeat spins. Devoted followers have come to expect nothing less. But the Argentine’s first live recording, El Encuentro (“The Encounter”), is particularly compelling and ambitious because it marks Saluzzi’s debut collaboration with Holland’s Metropole Orchestra, reconfigured as a string orchestra for the occasion and crisply recorded.

Those who enjoy Saluzzi’s collaborations with his brother, tenor saxophonist Felix Saluzzi, and cellist Anja Lechner won’t be disappointed by their soulful and lyrical contributions, or the skill with which they develop independent voices that color and sustain the composer’s signature narrative threads. This often dramatically charged sinfonia concertante, however, introduces another dynamic, an orchestral richness and cinematic sweep that quickly distinguishes the first movement, “Vais de los dias.”

Like the orchestrations that follow, this waltz reveals Saluzzi’s folk and classical influences in almost seamless fashion, though each movement has a distinct personality. “Plegaria Andina” colorfully exploits the resonating power and spiritual thrust generated by the Saluzzi siblings and Lechner, alone and together. “El Encuentro” is a prime example of Saluzzi’s storytelling, with its stirring orchestral counterpoint and neatly integrated showcase for solos and dialogues. And “Miserere” brings the album to an entrancing close with further evidence of Saluzzi’s great virtuosity and vision.

Here’s hoping this is not the last encounter for artist and ensemble.