German Cornejo's Top Ten Astor PIazzolla

Of all history’s great musicians and composers, there are only a few names that last the test of time and are passed down from generation to generation…Mozart, Bach, Elgar, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, to name a few. The Bandoneon player and composer, Astor Piazzolla, is certainly one of those. Born in 1941, in Mar del Plata, the Argentine transcended his genre of tango. To this day his towering compositions transport listeners to sublime musical journeys of emotional crescendos, ecstatic climaxes and melancholic descents. German Cornejo, one of the world’s most distinguished tango dancers, pays tribute to Argentina’s most famous musical export with his choice of ten tracks, each one unique and intensely beautiful, that have inspired him as a dancer.
German Cornejo

1) Adios Nonino 

A Piazzolla anthem par excellence. Piazzolla wrote this as a farewell to his father (Nonino) and from the first introductory chords of the piano, the intense nostalgia of the farewell to loved ones who are no longer with us is intoxicating. Each note that is played, each chord that resonates, reminds us of those important people in our lives, like my father, whom we have loved and who are no longer with us.

2) Oblivion 

This piece is a fascinating blend of subtlety and delicacy. Listening to it transports us to another place, another reality. For me personally, the melancholy and longing that it transmits inspires me to create an intimate dance, stripped bare, free of stereotypes, with bodies undulating softly in time to the music.

3) Libertango 

This masterfully composed tango is perhaps one of Piazzolla’s most emblematic pieces. The passion that emanates from it demands a dance full of vitality, power, life in the raw. I’ve identified with this music for a very long time, because it was one of the first tangos I danced to on stage.

4) Las Ciudades 

Another Piazzolla gem, not one included in his best known repertoire, but which shows us what visionaries Piazzolla/Ferrer were, and helps us understand why their vision dominated the avant-garde of the genre from the Seventies onwards. For me, it reflects our society, its materialism and ambition. We always want more, often behaving insensitively to others, insatiably hostage to the mass consumption and superficiality of globalization.

5) Violentango 

The vibrant frenzy transmitted by this tango draws me towards a frenetic, almost chaotic, dance. To a certain extent it liberates my darker side, the music channelling that machismo inherent in the tango.



6) Moriré en Buenos Aires 

This is a letter of farewell to life, embracing of death. Clearly an acceptance of destiny and a declaration of the bohemian way of life of the classic tango dancer: night and solitude.



7) Zita 

This intoxicating Piazzolla piece is an invitation to navigate between the sensuality and sexuality of its musicality in a hypnotic, seductive fashion. It prompts me to create an intense and clearly sensual dance. A constant game of seduction between the sexes, where provocation is given free rein.



8) Muralla China 

One of Piazzolla’s little know relics. Listening to it transports me back to the Buenos Aires of today. Fast-paced and bustling. Reflecting the light and shade of this incredible city, crammed with stories.



9) Los Pájaros Perdidos 

A feast for the senses. It conjures up a whole mix of emotions from surrender, resignation, and acceptance.  Dancing to it allows us to personify these emotions through movement, and perform a full dance of contrasts, ranging from entwined and suspended, to agile, quick and enveloping.



10) Tangata 

An array of emotions. Probably one of my favourite pieces at the moment, and a Piazzolla masterpiece. The variety of sounds achieved by the instrumental solos enables us to appreciate, in all its splendour, just how avant-garde Piazzolla’s work is, with each instrument taking us onto a different plane: the honesty and warmth of the guitar solo, the sweetness and fullness of the piano solo, and the nostalgia and melancholy of the violin solo. It would be hard not to get emotional listening to the exquisite, grandiose composition of this piece.



German Cornejo performs exclusively to the tunes of Astor Piazzolla with his dance company of 10 world-class Argentinean dancers in ‘Tango After Dark’  from 28 February to 17 March at The Peacock Theatre. Book tickets here