The Slovenia Times

Let's Tango



Marko Hatlak and Funtango first performed together on the Cerkno Jazz Festival in 2004. Accordionist Marko Hatlak invited four musician friends , to perform and experience tango music as a way of life. The Funtango quintet is very similar to a group of musicians with whom the great Argentinean composer and bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla used to play in the 70s and 80s in South America.

While playing, Funtango creates the southern, characteristic and uncompromising ambience, which is balanced with a mystic, classical sincerity and generosity. Piazzolla's writing encompasses tango music blended with sophisticated classical and jazz elements. That is why his tango is called tango nuevo or the new tango. Marko Hatlak and Funtango devoted themselves to playing to his music and gave the Slovenian public the possibility of appreciating it in its entirety.

They have had over 80 concerts and their breakthrough has only begun.

The History 08 Tour

This September, the group is on a big Slovenian tour promoting the release of their debut album "History", which contains eight energetic performances of pieces written by Astor Piazzolla. Already some of the titles, such as Primavera Portena, Tangata and Tangedia give us an image of fire, passion, love and tragedy which come alive on stage while they perform.

Altogether they will have 10 concerts and will end their tour on September 20, in Špas Theater in Mengeš.

Members of Marko Hatlak and the Funtango group are academic professional musicians, accordionist Marko Hatlak, violinist Bojan Cvetrežnik, pianist Sašo Vollmaier, guitarist Andrej Pekarovič and last but not least bassist Piero Malkoč. Marko and Bojan are also members of another very successful Slovenian group: Terrafolk.

Right after the opening concert, Marko Hatlak told us about his personal experience about playing Piazolla's tango with Funtango.

How did you meet the members of Funtango and formed the group?

From 1999 to 2004 I was studying in Weimar in Germany where I started interpreting Piazzolla's music with my first quintet, Distungo. We also recorded one album in Warsaw; over time our values and tastes took different paths, so I decided to form a new group in Slovenia.

It is obvious you enjoy yourself enormously on a stage. How do you feel while performing?

Yes, I enjoy it very much. This music is technically "playable"; you are not feeling insecure if you'll get through 300 notes per second and you can really play it from the heart. It is fantastically written music with a great groovy beat and often structured as a classical fugue that gives it the character of a dialogue between instruments. This musical communication between us is one of the best things when performing. I like our band, because all the instruments are solo instruments, there are parts when we sound like a little orchestra, yet there are many subtle passages where every instrument brings its own solo melody.

You mentioned Astor Piazzolla had a similar band, but he played bandoneon and not classical accordion like yours?

Bandoneon is a typical Argentinean instrument, a symbol of tango; however, it originates from Germany. Around 1834, Heinrich Band, a music teacher and dealer, was the prominent promoter of this instrument though he did not invent the instrument but modified and extended the original keyboard layout. The workers in German ports carried these instruments with them overseas to Argentina. At first, this music was not popular; it was played for the poor by the poor, in bars near ports of South America. In the beginning, the dance was only performed by men. Later woman role added the typical sensuality. Piazzolla himself led quite a bohemian way of life and was a frequent visitor to bordellos around ports; that explains the dark side of his tango music. My accordion is black and the colour surely contributes to the expression of the evil and sensual touch in Piazzolla's music.

You also sing on the concerts?

Well, I have always wanted to sing. When I was young I sang in a choir and in a soul band. I found singing very cool and expressive, you control your body and the voice really comes from within, con anima.

Marko concluded by saying he is really glad and satisfied for this tour.

We wish Marko Hatlak and Funtango an awesome tour and many great concerts in the future.


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