Dino Saluzzi/Anja Lechner/Felix Saluzzi: Navidad de los Andes

Dino Saluzzi of Argentina is a master of the bandoneon, a South American variant of the button accordion or concertina. The sound he achieves on this instrument is a direct, naked appeal to the heart. Anja Lechner of Germany played in the Rosamunde String Quartet for 17 years. She is a rare major classical cellist committed to improvisation. Together, Saluzzi and Lechner, two very different virtuosos, are a unique, sublime, counterintuitive natural entity. They are so complete that on their new album, Navidad de los Andes, the addition of Saluzzi’s brother Felix on clarinet and tenor saxophone is almost incidental, a minor intrusion into their rarefied counterpoint.

Saluzzi and Lechner make chamber music that is a genre unto itself. It commingles yearning tangos and formal classical austerities and quick jazz reflexes. It is mostly quiet, inward music, and it is always an immersion in pure sound, in the aural sensuality of a bandoneon’s drawn-out sighs and a cello’s rich, resonant complexities.

The seamless, flowing program contains Saluzzi originals and variations on the music of early 20th century tango composers like Enrique Delfino, Carlos Gardel and José Padula. The instruments of this trio are so intimately bonded that there are no solos in the conventional sense. Lechner will momentarily move forward and place a cello emphasis on one thread of melody. Then the bandoneon or clarinet will step out and change that melody’s color. Then the full band will coalesce again around the song in an intricate interweaving.

Navidad de los Andes is not for listeners in search of high energy and excitement. This is music to which you must release yourself. Then, within its slow sadness, there is a strange beauty, something human and universal, something ancient and wise.