Nélida Rouchetto

ur talk began this way: «On September 12, 1999 I was 80 years old but I don’t have any compact disc recorded with my tangos. D’you think this is all right?»

He told me that year after year he had been patiently reuniting recordings cut on old acetate discs from radio broadcasts. Then exchanging ideas with his friend Oscar Fresedo and also with the help and expertise of the recording technician Mario Sobrino he managed to gather enough material to be included in a disc with some of his compositions and the corresponding renditions of their interpreters.

Prechi helped us to build some part of his biography. He studied with maestro Carlos Viacava for some time. The latter went abroad and settled in Spain. Later his cousin José Luis Campana was his teacher. He was not completely satisfied with what he knew about music reading so he asked Marcos Madrigal to teach him harmony thoroughly and the secrets of bandoneon playing.

He learned very much as a professional —he admits— from Roberto Pansera by playing beside him and, seeing his arrangements, he discovered how to overdub the violins in the recordings they made with the Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestra.

He was only 18, in 1937, when with the pianist Adolfo Imperiale, the violinist René Perazo and himself on bandoneon, they put together a trio only knowing how to play six tangos. They hit the road and went to Tucumán to play at a tearoom. They did not even made a debut there because the main local attraction was an all-girl orchestra. They went to play at the sugar refineries. There they had a warm acclaim but they only got a few coins. Then they went to the province of El Chaco.

In 1939, he joined the orchestra led by Pedro Valdez. They played head arrangements at the carnival balls in San Marcos, province of Córdoba. He came back and was summoned for the military service. Prechi says that: «My first important gig was with the orchestra led by Cristóbal Herreros in 1948. Only in 1950 I joined the Osvaldo Fresedo’s orchestra. It was a 30-year tenure playing on tours, on radio stations, recording, television shows and the unforgettable evenings at the Rendez Vous night club, always playing bandoneon. Thereafter I continued premiering pieces I had written that he also recorded and also he trusted me to write the orchestra charts.

«In 1950 I married Concepción Simino, the mother of my daughter Lina. By that time I had already composed several tangos. In 1946, through my friend the draftsman Calé (later my brother-in-law when he married my sister), Astor Piazzolla read the music of my tango "De mi bandoneón". So he decided to premiere it and he also recorded it.

«When my wife died I spent a very sad period but I threw myself into music and composed the tango "Serás" which bears a very touching lyrics by Leopoldo Díaz Vélez. Life went on and I found comfort in Estela Miranda whom I married and gave me a son. His Christian name is Roberto Carlos and he is as well a musician.»

Later he played in the orchestras led by Juan Sánchez Gorio and Pedro Maffia, but he went on playing with Fresedo. «In 1958, under the singer Ricardo Landó’s suggestion, we put together an orchestra that played my charts influenced by the romantic style of Fresedo which I led and conducted.

«I was able to write the way I liked, with no hindrances. I included the French horn, an exotic touch for that time. With an instrumental songbook of pieces like "Flores negras" and "Mañanitas de Montmartre" and the vocal numbers by Landó we appeared on the Belgrano and El Mundo radio stations but when we recorded we were boycotted because they thought we were not marketable.»

Fresedo recorded several of his pieces. However he only appeared on the billboard when Julio Molina Cabral made a boom with his tango "Única" that he sang as a guarania. After that success Fresedo recorded it with the kid Hugo Marcel on vocals. With "Capricho de amor" I reached a wide acclaim abroad. Dizzy Gillespie chose that number to record it with Fresedo. The American singers The Peters Sisters rehearsed it and premiered it on Radio El Mundo when they appeared in Buenos Aires.

«As a composer I wrote several ideas, not only in the tango, milonga and candombe moods but also in the streams of the universal contemporary music which I found in my musical search. I succeeded in recording some of my tangos with my quartet which was not widely aired. Others were cut by good players like Daniel Binelli and Hugo Romero. But others are still unpublished, for example, my chamber quartets, piano and violin duets, trios with guitar, bandoneon and double bass. I designed the latter with no ties, allowing free contents and forms, according to my spiritual moods, some of them not conventional for the genre for which they were written. I hope that some day they would be premiered and also recorded. There are several young musicians who have been interested in studying them.

«I, as a composer, communicate, note for note with sensitive people who through my music were touched and they became my interpreters. They are also my friends, and because of them I was able and I can unite my feelings with the tango men here and throughout the world.»

Of his extensive oeuvre, besides the numbers above, are standouts: "Tengo", recorded by Miguel Caló, and Osvaldo Fresedo, among others; "Yo soy el tango señores" with lyrics by Raúl Gramajo, recorded by Ángel D'Agostino and Raúl Kaplún; "Adiós Bachín" with Jorfer; "Como me duele la noche"; "Para Ástor", instrumental; "Una y mil veces", lyrics by Alberto Leiva; "Y total para qué", co-written with Héctor Pacheco and Yaguarón (Diego Perkins); "A los amigos bandoneonistas", instrumental co-written with Ernesto Baffa, and the waltz "A tu lado mi amor" with Alberto Lago.