Stefan Wirth – Tango fugue on a theme by Piazzolla

This piece is being played by “The Gershwin Piano Quartet”, and therefore written for four pianists. As the title is already indicating, the fugue is based on a tango by Astor Piazolla. The piece is arranged for four polyphonic voices.

Within the first third of the piece, two of the pianists play the rhythm of the theme (or its counter-subject ) on, what I personally think, are wood-blocks. These wood-blocks don’t have entrances one-after another, they are being played from the beginning onward. Unlike most fugues, the theme for this one is unusually long. It provides a strong, slightly dramatic character, which can be heard especially powerful once the fourth and lowest voice starts. A short dramatic rest for all voices indicates, that the exposition of the fugue has come to an end.

In the next part of the piece, all four pianos are being used for the first episode, where one can hear a few separate sections from the main theme, the colour of the sound says the same. Compared to the exposition, the episode has been kept really short. Once, one can hear the theme again, two of the pianists start playing on the wood-blocks once more. The following part of the fugue seems more chaotic than the previous ones. This is caused by the theme being altered, furthermore, the number of performers playing the piano and the wood-blocks varies. I’m not sure, but it may be possible, that for an incredibly short section five voices can be heard at the same time, which is rather an ususual seeing, that the amount of voices of a fugue normally stays the same. At a point of this part, where the voices all seem to be tangled into one another and it becomes difficult to follow the piece, snaps are added to the sound-range as well.

The chaotic sounding phrases continue, adding mainly dissonances, become louder towards the end until they reach a climax. Another short rest for all the voices follows, similar to the one after the exposition. For the last five to ten seconds of the piece I myself actually expected it to come back to the more harmonic sounding beginning, but surprisingly, dissonances where used here as well.


It was interesting to listen to this piece and I especially enjoyed the, calmer sounding beginning, where I was still able to easily distinguish all the voices. I furthermore think, that the theme (when it was played in this very first part) was very entertaining and the first few counterpoints were written well. Seeing though, that, after the exposition it all started sounding stressful and dissonant, I couldn’t really enjoy listening to the rest of the piece.