Fifty years ago, Horacio Salgán founded the Quinteto Real, a group that today is a tango institution and which remains active with tours and recordings. The current director is César Salgán, who pays tribute to his father’s arrangements. An interview with a tango musical dynasty. Leer en ESPAÑOL
The Quinteto Real came about as entertainment.
In 1960 the Quinteto Real launched its first record. The photo on the cover was a clear reflection of what the new group was proposing: between the traditional and the modern, ensconced in armchairs in a living room, we see Horacio Salgán, Ubaldo De Lío, Enrique Mario Francini, Rafael Ferro and Pedro Laurenz, all of them relaxed, dressed in smoking jackets and smiling into the camera as if inviting us for a pleasant chat.
“When the quintet started, it had a spirit of fun. We wanted to give birth to a faster and lighter ensemble and the repertoire was chosen with these criteria”, recalls its mentor Horacio Salgán. The debut album contained syncopated arrangements of tangos like Felicia, Julián and Canaro in París, a ludic concept of music with a contagious rhythm.
I retired from stage, but not from music. As always, I continue studying the piano to stay current. Horacio Salgán –Since then, half a century has passed. Time enough for the Quinteto to traverse different periods. They were an extraordinarily successful group during the 60s, sidestepping the difficult times tango had to face; they created a following in Japan, where they played several times to great acclaim. In 1987 they were briefly presented in the market with a record called “Maestros del tango”, on which Leopoldo Federico played the bandoneón, and in the 90s they celebrated their revival due to the initiative of Cacho Vázquez, owner of the restaurant Club del Vino, who proposed they reunite. The magic nights in this little hideaway during the 90s remain unforgettable. In 2003 Horacio, the piano player and founder of the Quinteto, decided to withdraw from performing live and designated his son César as his successor, a role that César has fulfilled ever since. The unifying element of the Quinteto remains the same: it is a group that worships the arrangements of Horacio Salgán and respects them to the letter.
Exclusive interview | Part 1
“Music is a tradition we have inherited from our ancestors and we leave it to those who will continue our work, those who will be our heirs”, reasons Horacio Salgán on a cold autumn afternoon, looking at his son César, our host, in his apartment in Villa Crespo with its view of the entire city. “I bequeath you the music; since money I don’t have”, adds Horacio and both smile. The interview takes place in a homely atmosphere and is characterized by a sense of humor and commonly shared codes between father and son. They have plenty of reason to be in a good mood: Quinteto Real is celebrating half a century of history.
To play his music and have his approval is something I have been looking for since my childhood, maybe without being aware of it. César Salgán –The celebrations will initiate a new chapter: very soon, a CD will be recorded with arrangements written by Salgán father in recent times. “I retired from the stage, but not from music”, he clarifies. But this comment should not be taken literally either. Not very long ago they played as special guests during a Bicentenary celebration on 9 de Julio Avenue. On August 13 the ceremony will be repeated: the Quinteto Real, which consists of César Salgán, Esteban Falabella (guitar), Julio Peressini (violin), Carlos Corrales (bandoneón) and Juan Pablo Navarro (double bass), will perform along with two VIP guests: Horacio Salgán and Ubaldo De Lío, “We will be a quintet with seven participants”, says César. It will be the highlight of a series of activities taking place during this year. As they say: the perfect celebration. Read the exclusive interview below
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By Quinteto Real with Horacio Salgán & Ubaldo De Lío
Birth of a legend
Horacio Salgán started playing professionally in 1930. Like his friend the unforgettable musician Carlos García, he began playing when he was still a boy in shorts, as a pianist for the silent movies. “It was in the Cine Universal or in the Social de Villa Urquiza”, a cinema that had two names, in Lacar street, nearly San Martín Avenue. What the afternoon pianists and I played had nothing to do with the movie; we usually performed the hits of the moment. There was an exception: A Russian movie called Los barqueros del Volga(1), which told a true Russian story about some boatmen who had to use a rope to move their barge. A Russian chorus came along to sing – “Los cosacos del Don” – but this was an exception”, Horacio Salgán recalls perfectly, eighty years after the event.