EDIT: There has been some discussion about the right recording belonging to the track title below. There are two recordings, one of which is posted below, but they seem registered with different composers. According to Michael Lavocah, the ”Tristezas” mentioned by Fresedo might be a different song altogether, which was perhaps never recorded. But it would be hard to draw any definite conclusions.
Most tango dancers today probably associate the major orchestras with a small amount of very famous recordings: for example, Canaro is often identified with classics such as Poema, Invierno and Alma de bandoneón, and when you think of Biagi, great hits like Quiero verte una vez más and Golgota presumably come to mind. But, how about the favourite songs of those orchestra leaders themselves? Let’s look at a little piece of evidence below. By the way, before we start, I recommend a similar article about Canaro.
In the article below, from the early 1940s, Osvaldo Fresedo talks about his favourite piece, which may come a true surprise to anyone familiar with his music. Sure, probably the number one song by Fresedo, for people nowadays, is Buscándote, probably closely followed by a number of very popular tracks with Roberto Ray, his champion singer from the late 30s. However: interestingly, as we shall see, Fresedo’s own preferences are not as obvious as our modern-day perspectives suggest.
But first, we need to discuss a small caveat. Fresedo is asked about his favourite ‘piece’, which may either mean any tango song he adapted, played and possibly recorded with his orchestra, or a tango song he fully composed himself. Many people don’t realize the following: many famous tangos were not composed by major tango musicians themselves, but by individual composers who either worked in tango orchestras, or on their own. In any case, sometimes their creations became popular and were adapted by orchestras that played all kinds of songs at the same time. These composers often collaborated with lyricists and poets to produce successful songs, that could perhaps become immensely popular as ”a hit of the moment”.
To cut a long story short: if we could ask Fresedo the same question with a slightly different choice of words, like ”What is the best general song you ever recorded?”, he may or may not have answered Buscándote, for instance. But even then, even if we just look at his favourite own compositions, it is quite remarkable that he mentions a completely unknown song from 1927, Tristezas (”Tristezas/Sorrows is my tango, the one I prefer above all others”), from a distant era when tango music was much less sophisticated than in the Golden Age. But, don’t forget that Fresedo was a real tango veteran with a very long career, even though most people nowadays probably don’t realise that. So, why did he choose Tristezas?
In the text below, Fresedo explains that he found inspiration in the work of classical music genius Chopin. At some point in the year 1922, Fresedo found himself suffering from a flu at home, yet his doctor allowed him to play the piano and practise, and so he did. On a misty afternoon, he started composing this song, Tristezas, inspired by the ”sweet, absorbing sadness” of Chopins music, who by the way also inspired Donato’s famous song La melodía del corazón. I am not very familiar with Chopins music, but the sadness in his compositions indeed mirrors so much of the melancholy we find in tango music, even though (!!!) we will never exactly know how much of it was indeed inspired by classical compositions.
In any case, just this one tango is very revealing in the sense that it shows a bit of Fresedo’s soul and passion, and even though nobody can say, because Fresedo is obviously not there anymore to ask, we may conclude that some of his more famous, later music may have been inspired by Chopin too. Now, in case you are a seasoned listener of classical music, it’s up to you to speculate on the question whether such an influence may indeed be widespread in the rest of Fresedo’s music.