During the previous week, a very much last minute event invite cropped up on Facebook from London based, Argentinean born singer-songwriter, Rioplatenses folk singer and tanguero extraordinaire, Guillermo Rozenthuler. Friend and colleague Martin Alvarado, who will be deputising for Rozenthuler on the Midnight Tango tour (with Tango Siempre and Strictly Come Dancing pro-dancer stars Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone) for a week in May when Rozenthuler will be teaching at a singing retreat in Samos, was passing through London for just one day. Hence, Rozenthuler had decided to organise an impromptu private recital (by invitation only) for the coming Sunday, featuring Alvarado and himself, at a friend and professional associate's home in Swiss Cottage, London. A musical soirée really, you could say.
This would be a unique chance to hear Martin Alvarado - himself a singer and tanguero with an unrivalled reputation in Argentina - live in London, and moreover also together with Guillermo Rozenthuler, who thought this would be an excellent way for Alvarado to have his 'baptism' UK gig and for himself to bid a temporary farewell before embarking on the lengthy Midnight Tango tour a couple of weeks later.
This had to be far too good to miss! As, indeed, it was.
A crowd of, at the peak, perhaps some forty to fifty or so managed to mostly sit on cushions on the floor of the generously proportioned room, with some people still arriving after the performance had started. A table at one side of the room accommodated the bottles of wine and the snacks that most guests had brought along, while the bay served as the performance area.
Guillermo Rozenthuler started the performance and then introduced Martin Alvarado, who continued with a couple of songs before both singers joined for a duet or two. The performance was completely unrehearsed - indeed, although friends for many years, Rozenthuler and Alvarez had never sung together before - and as informal and relaxed as the crowd and the whole event.
The material covered various traditional Argentinean songs, original songs by both performers, and some classic tangos of a not too sad variety, as Rozenthuler emphasised that after all this was meant to be a happy occasion.
A very happy and relaxed occasion this most certainly was, a most enjoyable one indeed with splendid performances from both Rozenthuler and Alvarado. The former's baritone contrasted beautifully with the latter's tenor now, then blended just as beautifully and delightfully. Both singers also proved themselves superb and very entertaining raconteurs indeed.
After a set of some forty or so minutes, a break was taken and Rozenthuler asked for a voluntary donation of a very modest £5 per attendee which was to go to Alvarado. I should hope that this would have been exceeded by far with a more than full hat, for even just the first set would have been more than deserving of it.
The second set proceeded much as the first, with a mix of duets and individual performances. Both Guillermo Rozenthuler and Martin Alvarado were a simply sublime delight, enhanced by the wonderful informal atmosphere and nature of the event.
Of course, the crowning glory of this enchanting and enchanted evening was saved till last. The performance concluded with a magical and utterly spellbinding duet by Rozenthuler and Alvarado of the immortal Carlos Gardel classic Por Una Cabeza.
This informal little soirée was a sheer delight, with Martin Alvarado and Guillermo Rozenthuler delivering a spellbinding performance full of charm and wit and of the highest calibre, as indeed one would expect from these outstanding performers.
The evening was an unqualified success, and one must congratulate and indeed thank Guillermo Rozenthuler for coming up with the idea and seeing it through. It was a very pleasant, enjoyable and relaxing change from the usual typical club or concert venue gig, and one really would hope to see more such events in the future.
Finally, a warm and huge thank you and appreciation is due Ms. Mina Semyon for having been our gracious host and making it all possible.
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