Argentine guitarist and composer Maximo Diego Pujol mesmerises Cambridge with his sublime playing
This maestro of the classical guitar, who first visited Cambridge in 2016, performed to a packed St Paul’s Church on Hills Road on Saturday, November 10.
Earlier in the day, at 3pm, the renowned and gifted composer, musician and teacher – who performed his first concert at the age of nine – gave a talk on the history of tango music.
Starting with its humble beginnings in the ‘milonga’ music of Argentina and Uruguay, Maximo’s fascinating presentation explored the origins of tango dancing in the “waiting rooms” of Buenos Aires brothels and also looked at stars of the genre such as Carlos Gardel, Aníbal Troilo and Astor Piazzolla.
The talk was augmented with original recordings and Maximo’s heartfelt live playing, and a young couple from the Cambridge Tango Academy danced along beautifully to two of the recorded tracks.
Later, the church was even more full as the audience came to watch a true master of his craft – an acclaimed artist who has spent the last month giving concerts and masterclasses in Belgium, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
Maximo, 60, started the proceedings with three pieces from Argentine folk musician Atahualpa Yupanqui, Astor Piazzolla and Buenos Aires-born singer/songwriter Luis Alberto Spinetta – Cancion del Abuelo No 1, Otoño Porteño and Barro Tal Vez respectively.
The rest of the concert consisted of Maximo Diego Pujol originals, which were gorgeously and deftly played, with the down-to-earth guitarist fully immersing himself in his instrument and often looking close to tears.
Particular highlights were Costanera 7am, Candombe en Rondo and A Cara de Perro, and when this emotionally rewarding evening came to an end, Maximo took the enthusiastic applause and deserved standing ovation with great warmth and humility. I have a feeling he may be back.
Prior to the concert, Maximo told the Cambridge Independent that tango music has grown in popularity around the world thanks to Astor Piazzolla. “The popularity, at an international level, began with Piazzolla – before then, tango was more confined to the people of Buenos Aires,” he explained.
“A psychologist friend of mine said: ‘Tango is the universal expression of nostalgia’. I think it’s such a beautiful phrase that I always use it, because it really is.”