About Domingo Federico and his orquesta and Carlos Vidal in particular

Domingo Federico

lived a long life.

He was a bandeonist and composer of many of the best known tangos in history such as Al compás del corazon, Yuyo verde, Tristezas de calle Corrientes, Percal to name some.

But if you try to get some information about him, it is hardly possible.

You find a biography in todotango, there is an article in a newspaper from 2003 about his sister Nélida but the rest I got from word of mouth by collectors and by the back of vinyls.  The Grandes del Tango series (printed edition) that covers a lot of people from tango history do not devote an issue to Domingo Federico. Federico learned to play bandoneon from this father, Don Francisco Federico (who then played the contrabass in Domingo Federico’s orquesta) and later in the place to learn, the conservatoire of Pedro Maffia and Sebastián Piana.

His sister Nélida said he was exercising 14 to 15 hours a day. In his early days he worked together with

  •  Alejandro Scarpino (Canaro en París)
  •  his sister Nélida with whom he formed the Dúo Federico
  •  Juan Coldarella (a popular guitar player and whistler)
  •  Ricardo Luis Brignolo
  •  Carlos Di Sarli (short collaboration)
  •  Juan Canaro (orquesta y quintet) and finally he joined the
  •  Orquesta de las estrellas de Miguel Caló (1939-1943)

On 16th of June 1943 he started his artistic independence and he was so succesful with his orquesta that finally in April 1944 RCA Victor recorded the first shellac with the themes Saludos and La culpa la tuve yo.

First recorded shellac Saludos (1944)

Domingo Federico led the orquesta and played the first bandoneon, the other bandoneons were played by Eduardo Corti, Priori y Thompson, on the violins the gentlemen Enrique Cantore, Pando, Tallaferro y Ternaski, responsible for the wonderful piano playing was Mario Garcés and the contrabass was played by dad, Francisco Federico.

The orquesta sound is characterized by a special sonority, coming from the low keys of the piano, the virtuous playing of the bandoneon with these typical phrases that sound as if someone wanted to gain momentum.

Other examples demonstrating the richness and noteworthiness of Federico’s musical oeuvre.

Memorias (1947), Tropical (1946) – two outstanding examples.

Bolero by Ravel? Had the same association.

The vals Flores del alma, recorded in June 1947, almost exactly one month before De Angelis’ famous recording. Listen in the first part to the wonderful bandoneon playing of Federico then the Di Sarli style of the piano ending with these characteristic low keys on the piano.

In the second part listen again to the low key piano and then to this wonderful use of the strings. Sorry De Angelis…


Another thriving example for the use of the violins is Remolino from 1946 with the later De Angelis singer Oscar Larroca


Next example shows the whole spectrum of Federico’s musical treasure chest.
Mama… ievame p’al pueblo! (1947)
First of all the wonderful voice of Señor “Legato” Carlos Vidal (more about him see below), accompanied by this bandoneon-piano fight until the violins show up…

Carlos Vidal

who had not lived such a long life as Domingo Federico

His nickname was El coloradito (the redhead) and similar to Federico, there is almost no information about him. The only source I have is todotango.com

So I will sum up this article and then let his voice speak for him. Vidal’s teacher was Eduardo Bonessi and this Señor Bonessi was asked in 1944 by Federico if he does not know a young talented singer which he can form according to the orquesta’s needs. Bonessi suggested Vidal and after hearing him at the audition, 18 year old Vidal joined the orquesta. Not as young as Podestá when joining Caló’s orquesta – Podestá was in fact 16 – but close and maybe Federico who played bandoneon when Podestá started with Caló was so impressed by the voice of this young man that he thought to himself he will try the same. The fact that the audition took place was – as often in life – pure coincidence. Federico recorded La culpa la tuve yo with Ignacio Díaz and Díaz got ill so finding replacement was the order of the day.

And it was a good order.

In the following examples I want you to listen to this extraordinary pure legato voice of Señor Carlos Vidal

Yo (me) – Recorded on the 20th of April in 1945 – subjectively the most impressive tune by Federico/Vidal


La mazorquera de Montserrat – recorded on the 18th of April in 1947 – a rather unknown piece but very melodical they way Vidal sings it. The words rather tragical, telling the story of a mazorquera (supporter of Juan Manuel de Rosas, an Argentine dictator), who was stabbed by a jealous sergeant.


El huerfano (the orphan) – recorded on the 15th of May in 1945 – it is about a man who is not only grieving for his mother’s death but also for his beloved.


Para que te quiero tanto (why do I love you much?) – recorded on the 19th of July in 1945 –
Déjame volver para mi pueblo (Let me return to my village/my people) – recorded on the 20th of April in 1945 –
two perfect examples of this unique combination orquesta/singer


Al compás del corazon (to the beat of the heart)– recorded on the 14th of November in 1947 – composed by Federio. Federico studied medicine (later then he decided to give it up in order to attend the conservatoire of Maffi) and while dissecting a frog he got the idea to this tango. What a nice story!


The last recording for this period took place at the last day of September 1948 and has the adequate title Recuerdame (Remember me!)


The article in Todotango says that Vidal left the Federico orquesta in 1949 to join Alberto Mancione’s orquesta. We have a few shellacs with this orquesta but no recording with Vidal. But then we found a vinyl from the label embassy with the title Saludos… de Domingo Federico, canta: Carlos Vidal

This is strange because it is known that Federico toured a lot, also to Japan in 1968, and when he returned he recorded some tunes, but no Carlos Vidal was mentioned. But here is a snippet from this vinyl. And it is crystal-clear Carlos Vidal, with a more mature voice now.

Carlos Vidal died at young age of 54. For us he is one of the greatest and for whatever reason not in the Argentine Tango Walhalla. So we strongly suggest Wotan Gardel and all the other gods to take him there as soon as possible and let the sweetest Valkyries take care of him telling him what an outstanding singer he is.

With the Todo de Domingo compilation we pay our full respect to these wonderful artists. it was a lot of work but it was worth. Please do not share these tunes!

And at the end of this article an absolute unknown gem from the movie Al compás de tu mentira (1950), music from the orquesta Domingo Federico, the singer is the Chilenean actor Lalo Maura (special thanks to my friend Fernando Vicente).


© Christian Xell, aka Don Xello, December 2017, Buenos Aires


  1. Carlos Vidal really touches me. His singing style really reminds me to Elvis Presley, who started his career some ten years later in Memphis. Vidal uses the upper registers, presses some tormenting words – although his voice wouldn’t have any problem. His accentuating of a dramaturgical moment anyhow sounds very natural. No stupid and senseless vibrato (as we know from the late sixties in Tango). The voice of Carlos Vidal belongs among the most beautiful and superb, as the one of Fiorentino or Chanel.
    The combination of the real driving beat by Domingo Federico produces a great tension to the soulful voice of Vidal. This is another reason why it reminds me to early Rock’n’Roll (since I know that history very well).

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