The Telegraph
| Sunday, February 3, 2013 |


Straight Talk

Up, close and personal with your favourite people

Photograph by Swagato Gangopadhyay and Sucharita Gangopadhyay

Two to tango

Have you caught up with the growing popularity of tango - that sensual Argentine dance form - in India yet? If so, then the Bandini-Chiacchiaretta Duo, consisting of guitarist Giampaolo Bandini and bandoneon player Cesare Chiacchiaretta, would definitely grab your attention. They've been taking their renditions of Argentine music (especially legendary tango composer Astor Piazolla’s compositions) around the world and they played to a captivated audience at the recent International Guitar Festival at ICCR in Calcutta, during their two-day visit to the city. Bandini and Chiacchiaretta have performed with the prestigious St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and their first CD Hombres de Tango has sold more than 10,000 copies. Excerpts from a short tete-a-tete with the duo:

Is this your first time in India?

Yes. It has been a great trip, but too short. We loved the atmosphere here and the festival as well. There was a master-class and another concert where we performed. The food was amazing, particularly the desserts. Indian cuisine is really nice, especially since there is a lot of variety.

What made you take up Argentine music professionally?

We began to play Argentine music because the tango suddenly became very popular in Europe; it was like an explosion of tango music there. Also, Argentine blood is a lot like Italian blood - passionate - and there’s a deep connection between the two countries. (It’s believed that more than half the Argentine population has some degree of Italian ancestry.)

Where did you two meet? Tell us about your annual performance on New Year’s day in Italy that is so special to you.

We met somewhere in a competition and just we decided to play together! Our music kept improving and now we perform all over the world. The New Year concert in Parma, Italy is special; we have been playing there for the last 13 years on New Year’s Day.

Tell us about your most memorable performances. How has the experience of playing in India been?

It’s very difficult to pinpoint particular concerts and choose them as favourites. Each place has its own flavour and ambience. We have played at important concerts like with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Russia’s oldest symphonic ensemble, in front of 2,000 odd people - and the success has been great. But each concert has its own way of making us remember. Playing in Calcutta was beautiful and different and we were surprised when so many people came up to us for autographs, guitar-playing tips and felicitations. We were surprised that they loved tango music so much.

What is your practice routine as a duo?

We end up practising on Skype since we live in different cities! (Bandini lives in Parma, while Chiacchiaretta lives in Pescara, both in Italy). We travel a lot together and it’s very easy to just practice in the hotel we’re staying in. Now after so many years we know each other so well that we don’t need to practice so hard - maybe just five minutes before a concert! Of course, when we’re playing a new composition we practice well (Chiacchiaretta travels to Parma often), but usually it’s no problem because we’re together a lot.

Have you ever performed in Argentina? What was that like?

We’ve travelled to Argentina several times. The people there are very warm and the food is great - so much meat! We have performed there too and it was a slightly anxious time. We did not know how people would react to the music but eventually it was a success. More importantly, our style is very different from typical Argentine tango music, because we do not play traditional tango. It’s more European in flavour.

By Tania Bhattacharya