Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fun and moving music from a great Quartet

June 18, 2010:


With 28 years of experience playing string quartets, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano are well-placed to put together a programme like this one. Over the years they've championed (and commissioned or were dedicatees for) many great string quartets by contemporary composers of The Americas. From what I'm sure is a much longer list, they've put together a winning programme of encores for this CD.

The Cuarteto Latinoamericano made a big stir lately with their recordings and performances of the complete String Quartets of Villa-Lobos. Here they present a craggy Valsa by Villa's compatriot Radames Gnattali. Roberto Sierra wrote his Mambo 7/16 for the Cuarteto, and they've mastered its tricky rhythms (I'm assuming that took some significant work, even for these accomplished musicians.) The Italian Stefano Scodanibbio is represented by pieces from his Mexican Songbook, which are oddly, and interestingly, twisted versions of Mexican popular songs. I'm sure these are popular as encores, and they're scatted throughout the CD as individual pieces. But I enjoyed listening to them together as a group on my iPod.

The five short pieces by Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez that make up Cinco para Cuarto are much more serious in tone. They are dedicated to the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, and are presented here to the best possible effect. Another more solemn work, by Osvaldo Golijov, is the Yiddishbbuk, three lamentations that commemorate child victims of the Nazis at Terezin. This is such powerful music!

The programme closes with works by the Mexican Jorge Torres Saenz (another work with tricky rhythms: La Venus se va de juerga), the Spaniard Adolfo Salazar (his exotic Rubaiyat), and the American David Stock (the haunting Suenos de Sefarad). It's all enjoyable and often moving music from an amazing group.

November 2, 2015 update: Just heard from Cuarteto Latinoamericano's Twitter feed about the recent passing of David Stock. I'm listening to Suenos de Sefarad in his memory.

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