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Song of The Week

Santa Fe Tango

Song of the Week Compilation November 2017-May 2018

Prepared by Fer Robles

Song of the Week: Bahia Blanca,  (Instrumental Tango, 1957)

Orchestra: Carlos Di Sarli

Composer: Carlos Di Sarli

The song "Bahía Blanca" is homage to Carlos Di Sarli's hometown, located in the southwest province of Buenos Aires. It is a great example of an elegant, sophisticated tango. He recorded Bahia Blanca in 1957.

Di Sarli is known for his smooth, clean sound and powerful arrangements.  His music has an easy, danceable rhythm while being complex enough for advanced dancers to enjoy. His music has also been described as lyrical and playful. (

Please click on the link above to hear this beautiful rendition of Di Sarli’s music. The song will play in its entirety after which you can return to browse our newsletter.

Music:  Bahia Blanca.mp3

Song of the Week: Pensalo Bien,  (Tango, 1938)

Orchestra: Juan D’Arienzo

Singer: Alberto Echague

Music: Juan Jose Visiglo

Lyrics: Luis Alberto Lopez

This happy and danceable tango has become the hymn of tangueros worldwide. Its music brings dancers to the floor and those who do not hum its melody. Juan D’Arienzo recorded the song in 1938 with  singer Alberto Echagüe. The lyrics reflect tango music’s strains of heartbreak interwoven with the sheer joy of dance.  I will be playing Malena at Rufina Taproom inaugural milonga this Sunday, Dec. 3rd.

Music link and lyrics (in Spanish and English) follow. 

Music: Pensalo bien.mp3


Pensalo bien,
antes de dar ese paso, 
que tal vez mañana acaso 
no puedas retroceder. 

Pensalo bien, 
yo que tanto te he querido, 
y me has echado al olvido 
tal vez por otro querer.

Think carefully, 
before taking that step, 
because perhaps tomorrow 
you may not be able to step back.

Think carefully, 
I have loved you so much
and you have thrown me to the winds 
perhaps for another love.

Think carefully
before taking this step...
because tomorrow,
you may not be able to step back.

Think carefully … 
because I have loved you so much.
And now, you have thrown it away...
perhaps for another love.

Song of the Week: Malena (Tango, 1941)

Music by Lucio Demare Orchestra

Lyrics: Homero Manzi

Singer:Hector Alvarado

This song, a fusion of music and poetry, captures the bohemian tango scene at the start of the 1940s.   Inspired by the mythical woman of milongas and cabarets, Argentine poet Homero Manzi wrote Malena. Who is Malena? No one knows for sure.  Tango historians argue that Malena is the synthesis of Manzi’s encounters with singers and muses in the tango scene in Buenos Aires and abroad.  His poem describes the downtrodden corners where tango originated, aptly described by this line in his poem:  “Her voice, carrying the scent of back alley weeds”. Orchestra leader Lucio  Demare,  a good friend of Manzi,  musicalized the poem in one evening in which both were at one of those places .  The singer that night sang Malena to the delight of those present.  Over the years, this jewel of tango music has inspired many dancers.  The lyrics and song are below.

Music:  18 Malena.m4a


Malena sings the tango as no other
Pouring out her heart in every verse.
Her voice carries the scent of back alley weeds,
Her sorrow is the pain of the bandoneón.
Perhaps, in her distant youth, her lark’s voice
Took on the tinge of dark pathways
Or perhaps is the love affair she never speaks of
Unless she’s seeking refuge in drink.
Malena sings the tango with the voice of a shadow,
Malena’s sorrow is that of the bandoneón

Your song
Holds the chill of a final meeting.
Your song
Made bitter from the ashes of remembrance.
I don’t know
If your voice is the bloom of sorrow,
I only know that in the murmur of your tangos, Malena,
I sense you are better,
So much better than me.

Your eyes are dark as oblivion,
Your lips, pursed with bitterness,
Your hands, two doves feeling the cold
And in your veins, bandoneón blood.
Your tangos are lonely strays
Who pace through grimy alleys
When all doors are locked
and howl away the phantoms of each song.
Malena sings the tango with a cracked voice,
Malena’s pain is that of the bandoneón.

Song of the week: Poema ( Tango, 1935)

Orchestra: Francisco Canaro

Music: Eduardo Bianco

Lyrics: Adolfo Melfi

Singer: A. Maida

 Poema is perhaps the most beloved tango outside Argentina. The main reason that Argentines may not love it, as much is that it sounds European and they are right (see the poster announcing Poema in Paris Poema 1.jpg). The song was written for European audiences by Argentine music expatriates in the 1930s. In 1931, Bianco and Melfi composed the song on a train trip to Berlin inspired by the sound of train over the tracks.  Listen to the constant beat of the song and imagine that you are on the train.  The lyrics tell the history of Bianco’s, a violin player in an Argentine orchestra, who shot the pianist in the same orchestra after learning that his wife was cheating on him. Maybe he escaped to Paris to avoid justice.  The last verse of the poem captures all the drama.  This is a true fact. Enjoy the music.

Music:Poema.mp3 Poema.mp3


Of that intoxicating poem,
nothing now remains between you and me.
Through my sad farewell
you shall feel the emotion
of all my pain.

Music:Poema 1.jpg

Song of the Week: Recuerdo,  (Instrumental Tango, 1944)

Orchestra: Osvaldo Pugliese

Music: Osvaldo Pugliese

This sublime song needs no introduction. Pugliese composed the music in the early 1920s and it was recorded by many early orchestras. The version that is most commonly played in milongas is his instrumental version of 1944. Enjoy!

Music: Recuerdo.mp3

Song of the Week: Café Dominguez,  (Tango, 1955)

Orchestra: Angel D’Agostino

Music: Graciano de Leone

Words by Julian Centeya

At the sound of the first “compas” of this popular song, dancers eagerly search for a partner and hit the dance floor.  D’Agostino composed the music and incorporated a poem, recited by Julian Centeya, telling the story of a café on old Corrientes Street.  This café held special memories for the old milongueros; though we are distanced in time and culture, we can feel the twinge of memories from our own version of a bygone Café Dominguez.  DJs have a challenging time to pair this song with others as it has its unique style and rather late (1955) recording period-other D’Agostino great pieces are from the 1940s.  

Music: Cafe Dominguez.mp3 Cafe Dominguez.mp3

Song for New Year’s Eve: A Las Tres de la Mañana, (Instrumental Vals 1946)

Orchestra: Enrique Rodriguez

Composer: Julian Robledo

This is a song to play to usher tango into the New Year.  It was composed by an Argentine living in the U.S. in 1919 and recorded by many U.S. orchestras under the title “Three o’clock in the morning” The song was recorded as a vals by Enrique Rodriguez Orchestra in 1946. Happy Tango New Year!

Music: A las tres de la mañana-Instrumental.mp3

Song of the Week: No Te Apures Carablanca (Tango, 1942)

Orchestra: Lucio Demare

Singer: Juan Carlos Miranda

Composer: Roberto Garza

Lyrics: Carlos Bahr

If you are feeling a bit lonesome and reflective, this song is for you.  Argentines have a love affair with horses and this is one of few tango songs that feature a horse.  Bet you didn’t know that despite the many times you have danced to it.  In this case, a lonely rider on the way home from the saloon is singing to his horse about a lost love.  He tells the horse to slow down because there is no one waiting at home for him. He always arrives early as night falls, alone with his memories and regrets. Like in tango, there no rush to the end of the song as the joy is in the journey.  Here is the music, as well as a performance of the song by one of my favorite dance couples.

 Music: No te apures carablanca.m4a

Dance by Carlitos Espinoza and Noelia Hurtado

Song of the Week: Buscandote, (Tango, 1941)

Orchestra: Osvaldo Fresedo

Singer: Ricardo Ruiz

Composer: Eduardo Scales

At the start of the golden era of tango (1940s), orchestra directors aimed to please different dancers and styles.  Some habitués preferred the intimacy of bars, cafes and dancehalls in the neighborhoods where tango originated, and orchestras played the rhythmic and energetic music that kept them dancing through the night.  Others preferred to dance tango in more elegant ballrooms, country clubs and other such swanky venues.  Orchestras at these venues not only played tango but also other popular genres such as fox trot and swing. Fresedo was perhaps the best exemplar of the latter.  The song of the week is an example of the salon style predominant in higher social classes of Buenos Aires in the 1940s.  While it’s a very danceable tune, there is nothing especially notable about the song or lyrics. Focus on the orchestra and instruments not common in other orchestras, such as the harp. 

Music: Buscándote-Ricardo Ruiz.mp3

Song of the week: Gricel  (Tango, 1942)

Composer: Mariano Mores

Lyrics: Jose Maria Contursi

Orchestra: Anibal Troilo (1942)

Singer: Francisco Fiorentino

This song is a classic tango love story. Contursi, a poet and tango music composer, travelled to the mountains near Cordoba to improve his health. Through the advice of friends, he stayed at the home of Susana Gricel Vigano and her family, and fell in love with Gricel. Thus began a love affair that lasted decades. Though Contursi would always return to his wife and children in Buenos Aires, he communicated with his muse through the poetry of his tango lyrics- the first of which was the tango Gricel (See Photo of Gricel gricel1.jpg). Years passed and Contursi added a number tangos inspired by Gricel to his collection. Much later, he became a widower and was consumed by depression and alcohol. Gricel decided to travel to Buenos Aires to help Contursi recover; a few months later, in 1967, they wed.  Gricel inspired his last tangos “otra vez Gricel” or “At last Gricel” – before his death in 1972.  The tango Gricel has been played by many orchestras. This is Anibal Troilo’s version with singer Fiorentino.

Music: 11 Gricel.mp3

If you are interested in the full history, here is a youtube video with a full account.

Song of the Week: Que te importa que te llore  “What do you care that I weep for you”-(Tango, 1942)

Orchestra: Miguel Calo

Music: Osmar Maderna and Miguel Calo

Singer: Raul Beron

This song has all the ingredients of a great tango: romance, beautiful melody, energy, drama, rhythm. The superb lyrics and music are born from the collaboration between Calo and pianist Osmar Maderna, and the voice of Raul Beron melds perfectly with the music, luring you to the dance floor.  Enjoy!

Music:04 Qué Te Importa Qué Te Llore - Raul Beron - 1942.mp3

Song of the Week: El Trece (Instrumental Tango, 1938)

Orchestra: Rodolfo Biagi

Music: Angel Villoldo

The Rodolfo Biagi and Juan D’Arienzo orchestras are the best examples of rhythmic tango music. Their music kicks up the energy on the dance floor and is usually played back to back to keep the energy high - particularly the instrumentals. Biagi and D’Arienzo sound similar because at one time they were together. Biagi was D’Arienzo’s pianist and music arranger before leaving to form his own orchestra. The song of the week is one example of Biagi’s rhythmic music that I am sure you have danced to many times. Enjoy.

Music:  El Trece 1938.mp3

Song of the Week: Oigo tu Voz (Tango, 1943)

Orchestra: Ricardo Tanturi

Singer: Enrique Campos

Music: Mario Canaro

“Oigo tu voz” or “I Hear Your Voice” is another example of a seamless combination of music, orchestra and singer. The voice of Campos is perfect for the lyrics and music.  The orchestra’s clear rhythmic beat leads the dancer to follow the phrases and pauses for a great dance.  Enjoy.  

Music: Oigo Tu Voz.mp3

Song of the Week: Abandono (Tango, 1937)

Orchestra: Pedro Laurenz

Music: Pedro Maffia

Lyrics: Homero Manzi

Voice: Hector Farrell

Pedro Laurenz was a virtuoso bandoneon player. A member of early and influential tango ensembles such as Julio de Caro and Pedro Maffia, he brought a softer and more polished sound to these groups. Later, he established his own orchestra and produced a lyrical and emotional style that fits very well the late hours of any milonga when dancers are looking for more soulful music. Listen to his variations at the end of Abandono that invite endless spirals to complete the dance.  If you would like to recreate a full tanda experience, I recommend following songs:  Amurado (1940), Vieja Amiga (1938) and No me extrana (1940) and De Puro Guapo (1935) for combinations of a 12 minute immersion in the best of Laurenz.  They all end in musical spirals.  Enjoy.

Music:  Abandono-Héctor Farrel.mp3

Song of the Week:  Reliquias Porteñas (Milonga, 1938)

Orchestra: Francisco Canaro

Singer: Roberto Maida

Music: Graciano De Leone

Canaro’s milongas are the most popular on the dance floor, particularly the instrumentals. This is one that you must have danced to many times.

Music:Reliquias Porteñas.mp3

Song of the Week:  La Bordona (Instrumental Tango, 1958)

Orchestra: Osvaldo Pugliese

Music: Emilio Balcarcel

Most dancers are familiar with Pugliese music in the 1940s. In the 1950s, Pugliese’s music becomes complex but magnificent. His orchestra is mature and symphonic. Tango aficionados follow Pugliese to concert halls to hear his music.  A few  songs of this period are danceable. La Bordona is one of them and experiment with a more dramatic style of dance.  

Music:La Bordona.mp3

Song of the Week:  Mi Dolor  - My Sorrow (Instrumental Tango, 1957)

Orchestra: Alfredo de Angelis

Music: Carlos Marcucci (1930)

Composed by Marcucci in 1930, this song has been recorded by several other orchestras; the versions of D’Arienzo and De Angelis tend to be the favorites of DJs and dancers.   The instrumental  version by De Angelis is featured here. The D’Arienzo  version adds lyrics. Another good version is by the Hector Varela orchestra.  All were recorded in the late 1950s and thus the quality of their sound is very good, which enhances the dancing experience. Enjoy.

Music: MI DOLOR De Angelis.mp3

Song of the Week:  Remembranza (Tango, 1943)

Orchestra: Ricardo Malerba

Music: Mario Melfi

Lyrics: Mario Battistela

Singer :  Orlando Medina

The song of this week continues our review of the so called “orquestas olvidadas” (forgotten orchestras). This time it’s Ricardo Malerba, composer and orchestra director. His orchestra is characterized for its romantic and rhythmic style. His main productions of songs were 38 songs between 1941 and 1945. This classic song- Remembranza- belongs to that period. Enjoy this week’s selection.

Music: Remembranza.m4a

Song of the Week:  Recuerdo (Instrumental Tango, 1926)

Orchestra: Julio De Caro

Music: Osvaldo Pugliese

It’s time to introduce Julio de Caro in our reviews of tango music. In a previous song of the week, I introduced this great song (Recuerdo), composed by Osvaldo Pugliese and recorded in 1944. Julio De Caro pre-dated Pugliese with the first recording of Recuerdo in 1926. You can hear both versions here and decide which one you like better.  De Caro recorded this song with his sextet whereas Pugliese did it with a full orchestra. Also, by contrasting the two you can see the strong influence that De Caro had on Pugliese’s later success.  Many tango experts consider De Caro the pioneer of instrumental tango, in the same way that Gardel was for vocal tango. This period (late 1920s) is referred to as the decaraena stage of tango, when tango began moving from gritty backstreet bars to more upscale venues.  Members of De Caro’s sextet continued this evolution with their own orchestras, as is the case with Pedro Laurenz.

De Caro version of Recuerdo: De Caro Recuerdo.m4a

Pugliese version of Recuerdo: Pugliese Recuerdo.mp3

Song of the Week:  Oblivion (Instrumental New Tango, 1982)

Orchestra: Astor Piazzolla

Music: Astor Piazzolla

Last week, we reviewed Julio de Caro, a pioneer who profoundly changed tango music in the late 1920s. In the 1940s, Osvaldo Pugliese was a major influence on tango music composition and interpretation. To complete this review of inflexion points in tango evolution we introduce Astor Piazzolla.  As a great bandoneonist, composer and arranger for other traditional orchestras, Piazzolla introduces classical music, jazz and opera to revolutionize tango music in the early 1960s with the creation of his Quinteto Nuevo Tango. This period is the start of the so-called Tango Nuevo.  Oblivion is perhaps one of his greatest accomplishments, written for a symphony orchestra. Although perhaps not danceable in milongas, it is a hauntingly beautiful and majestic tango piece.

Music: Oblivion.m4a

Song of the Week:  Un Lamento (Tango, 1929, 1944, 1952)

Orchestra:  Carlos Di Sarli

Music: Graciano De Leone

This week we will trace the evolution of the Carlos Di Sarli orchestra over several decades. Di Sarli formed his first orchestra in 1927 with a small sextet of musicians and a rhythmic and harmonic style. His early recording of the song “Un Lamento” exemplifies this style. His second orchestra, formed in 1938 with a larger group of 10-12 musicians played a more flowing style typical of other orchestras in the 1940s. With the formation of yet another orchestra in 1951, his style changed to a more dramatic and symphonic music style. In all periods, Di Sarli maintained a clear and elegant sound with a marked compas in which all instruments play at all times. It is this clarity in the music and richness of the orchestral instrumentation that makes Di Sarli’s music such a pleasure to dance to. As you listen to the different versions of the same song, note the constant style and variations in tempo over time. 


Un Lamento (1929) Un lamento 1929.mp3

Un Lamento (1944) Un lamento 1944.m4a

Un Lamento (1952) Un Lamento 1952.m4a

Song of the Week:  Flores del Alma “Soul Flowers” (Vals, 1942)

Orchestra:  Alfredo De Angelis

Singers: Carlos Dante and Julio Martel

Music: Juan Larenza

Lyrics: Alfredo Lucero and Lito Bayardo

This beloved vals features two voices that take turns to describe lost love, regrets and memories of loved ones who we will never see again - their souls have turned into flowers. The vals is great to dance to and the lyrics are sad and lovely, incorporating the emotions of longing brought up by the music.

For a full version of the lyrics go to the following page:

Music:Flores Del Alma (vals).m4a

Song of the Week: Solamente Ella (Tango, 1944)

Orchestra:  Francisco Lomuto

Singer:  Alberto Rivera

Music: Lucio Demare

Lyrics: Homero Manzi

Francisco Lomuto was a prolific orchestra leader, composer and contributor to tango music. His contribution spans from 1923 when he formed his first orchestra (a sextet) to 1950.  In that period, he recorded close 1000 songs.  Thus, Lomuto is a must for tango music collectors. The song featured this week is an example of his smooth and soft sound to tango music. The music was written by another famous orchestra composer we have featured here, Lucio Demare and the lyrics are by Argentine poet- Homero Manzi. The final product is a brilliant tango composition.

Music: Solamente Ella.m4a

Song of the Week: Pescadores de Perlas – Pearl Fishers (Instrumental Tango, 1968)

Orchestra:  Florindo Sassone

Music: George Bizet

I played this song at our recent mixed music milonga at Dance Station and received a number of inquiries about its origin. The music is the aria of Bizet’s Les Pecheurs de Perles adapted for tango by Sassone - a contemporary of Di Sarli. Another popular aria in tango is Bizet’s Carmen. For a good review of crossover classical music played at milongas check this site:

Music: Pescadores De Perlas.mp3

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