Ángel Cárdenas

Real name: Bartoli, Ángel
Singer, actor and composer
(18 July 1927 - 4 December 2005)
Place of birth:
Chacabuco (Buenos Aires) Argentina
Abel Palermo

e was born in the city of Chacabuco, province of Buenos Aires. His parents were Ángel and Dominga.

His good voice, his knowledge, his delicate phrasing and his expressiveness were the outstanding capabilities of this beloved friend. But also, his merry and, sometimes, unruly personality, his angers and his ambitions.

He studied acting and music. Among his teachers he had Alberto Ginastera, Roberto Grela and, in theater, Antonio Cunill Cabanellas.

He made his debut in the early 40s, recommended by who would be his artistic tutor, the Uruguayan singer Néstor Feria, in a theater company headed by Alberto Vaccarezza and Raúl De Los Hoyos with two numbers: “El carrerito” and “El poncho del amor”. Since then his career began with a songbook that included tangos and southern folk songs. By that time his appearances on Radio Splendid and at the Confitería La Querencia, on Avenida de Mayo, stood out.

As from 1945, and after some tours of the interior of the country, he was admitted as employee of the motion pictures company Emelco, in which a part of his dreams to become an actor would come true. Summoned by the director León Klimovsky, he was assistant to the director in the movies Las campanas de Santa Teresa and Se llamaba Carlos Gardel. In 1949 his activity in the movie industry would lead him to appear as actor with directors of the level of Mario Soffici, Fernando Ayala and Hugo Fregonese. He appeared, among other movies, in: Juvenilia, Cuando en el cielo pasen lista and Barrio gris. But he stood out best under the direction of Armando Bo, alongside the actress Isabel Sarli, in Sabaleros and Los días calientes.

In the early 1956, because the singer Carlos Olmedo had split with Aníbal Troilo, he acquainted the latter on recommendation of the pianist Osvaldo Manzi. As soon as Pichuco heard him he was hired immediately. The other vocalist was Pablo Lozano, who soon thereafter quit the orchestra and was replaced by Roberto Goyeneche.

On July 18, 1956 he cut his first recording for the TK label: the tango “Quién”, composed by Osvaldo Manzi with lyrics by Luis Lira (nickname of Enrique Parodi). At this stage, his best recordings along with Gordo (Fats) were: la milonga “Chuzas”, “Vamos vamos zaino viejo”, “Callejón” and “Qué risa”.

The following year Troilo returned to his first company, Odeon, with a brand-new orchestra which included Osvaldo Berlingieri and the arrangers Julián Plaza, Emilio Balcarce and Eduardo Rovira. Cárdenas recorded eight numbers as soloist singer and three in a duo with El Polaco. Then he achieved his greatest artistic and commercial success with the tango “La última”. We can also stand out his rendition of “Te llaman malevo”.

I witnessed the performances of the orchestra at the Marabú cabaret, on Maipú and Corrientes and, also, at the Empire which was round the corner where Cárdenas was featured in all his splendor, evidencing his proficiency and his quality as interpreter. And especially on Radio El Mundo, at those unforgettable appearances with public, where I was one more of the fans of Troilo, charmed with his magic.

At the beginning of 1960, Cárdenas split with the orchestra and was replaced for a short time by Jorge Casal and later, definitively, by Elba Berón.

In his new stage, he put together his own outfit that was led by Ernesto Rossi (Tití). He started a stage of tours, either of our country or of Central America, and finally of the United States. There he stayed for a long time, appearing in concerts at different universities. He would repeat this schedule for many years.

In 1970 he was the scriptwriter, the producer and the director of a movie: Una cabaña en la pampa, in which he as well was starred and for which he wrote the music.

As composer he wrote the music for Jorge Luis Borges’s “Milonga del forastero” and for Atahualpa Yupanqui’s milonga, “Cosas de uno” and the tango “Cantor de fonda”. He also composed, among others, the tangos: “Entre tangos y milongas”, “Aquel amor lejano”, “Frente a frente con la vida”, “Lejos, muy lejos”; the waltzes: “Nube errante”, “Justo ahora, corazón” and “Por nuestros caminos”; and the milongas: “Milongueando”, “Trasnochado trovador” and “Morena y candombera”.

He was a frequent visitor to the Academia Nacional del Tango and was featured in many of its evening reunions. Death found him alone, in his home, after his last appearance at the Bar Tuñón.

Cárdenas was one of the best interpreters of the milonga genre —with a creative and folk-like style—, a great diffusor of the popular culture and a very picturesque character of the tango bohemia.