Pan American Symphony Orchestra's Todo Tango' at Lisner Auditorium

Washington Post - Jeff Hoodock, November 2, 1998

Sergio Alessandro Buslje, artistic director and conductor of the Pan American Symphony Orchestra, has quietly created a valuable Washington institution. His amateur orchestra, which showcases Latin American classical music, demonstrated this with its tribute to tango Friday night at Lisner Auditorium.

"Todo Tango" was both informative and entertaining, heavily emphasizing the works of Astor Piazzolla. It was the perfect vehicle for introducing tangos, the Latin alter ego of the blues and jazz. Tango, the dance form, was represented by three accomplished couples, performing to various shorter works in the first half. It was the evening's weakest element. The couples, though of competition caliber, generated too little real dynamic variation with their pat stylings and over-the-top costumes. Of greater impact were the dramatic vocal numbers by singers Marga Mitchell and Eduardo Nijensohn.

The real revelation was the astonishingly modern yet traditionally grounded body of Piazzolla's work. The orchestra, anchored by master bandoneon player Raul Juarena, navigated six of these wildly imaginative and complex compositions with admirable transparency, texture and punch. The soloist and the orchestra melded perfectly in the evening's highlight, "Concierto Para Bandoneon." Piazzolla's voice, an improbable but irrepressible blend of Argentine traditions, European modern classicism and American jazz, came through clearly and with great spirit.