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It takes two to tango on the piano

Tango music — for two pianos — will be the order of the day on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15-16, as pianists Pablo Ziegler and Christopher O’Riley will team up for a pair of concerts. The performances begin at 8 p.m. in the Mondavi Center’s Vanderhoef Studio Theatre.

Both pianists have been here before. Ziegler played at Mondavi in April 2011 with his 12-piece band Beyond Tango. O’Riley played a pair of concerts in November 2010 featuring his own piano transcriptions of songs by Radiohead.

O’Riley told The Enterprise that he is looking forward to this collaboration.

“Pablo Ziegler was Astor Piazzolla’s pianist, and we have been touring together for years, playing music by Piazzolla and new music by Pablo,” he said. “We recently made our own recording; it is very exciting. It will be coming out in the summer, on the Steinway label.

“For this visit at Mondavi, most of the music we will play is actually by Pablo Ziegler. Pablo’s tunes stand up quite well against the tunes by his old boss. I am very excited about this concert.”

(O’Riley will be staying on in Davis to host a “From the Top” performance on March 18, and participate in the Mondavi Center’s Young Artists Competition on March 19 and 20.)

UC Davis music faculty member Pablo Ortiz, who was born in Argentina and will moderate a post-performance question-and-answer periods with the pianists, told The Enterprise that he first heard this duo play together in a festival organized by the American Composers’ Orchestra.

“Pablo is a fantastic player, combining tango heritage in the classical tradition,” Ortiz said. “He composed ‘Elegante canyenguito,’ which is elegant and somewhat ‘cocky,’ among other somewhat traditional tangos.”

Tickets are $32 general, with discounts for students, available online or by phone at 530-754-2787.

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