Cuarteto Latinoamericano

Brasileiro: Works of Francisco Mignone

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The fresh, unfamiliar repertoire of this album should appeal to fans of chamber music who want to branch out beyond the classics of standard European string quartet repertoire from the 18th or 19th centuries. This exciting album showcasing the works of Francisco Mignone is performed with great feeling and expressivity by the unique and inspiring Cuarteto LatinoAmericano from Mexico. Longtime veterans of Latin American repertoire for string quartets, they bring their love of interesting and rather unknown repertoire to this CD. All the works are so attractive that it's practically impossible to choose a favorite without unfairly slighting the others. The String Quartet No. 2 is engaging in its emotion and texture. By turns active, melancholy, dance-like, or delightfully cacophonous, it catches the listener's attention and never lets it go. The Seresta No. 2 for double quartet is a treat, with a rich lushness that is the result of combining forces with La Catrina String Quartet. The musicians really play into the strings, and one can feel the bouncy allegro with each bow stroke. Each instrument holds its own weight and is an important voice in this work. The Minueto is very sweet and tender in contrast to other vigorous pieces on the album; it is like an elegant society piece to be heard in a gilded salon. Also tender and moving are the Three Spanish Songs. "Nana" is like a lilting lullaby, and the ending is amazing, with each of the musicians having perfect control at the tip of the bow. "Las mujeres" is full of fire, and the low strings play as fluidly as the high ones. It is no wonder that the Cuarteto plays so well together, as there are three brothers among them, and it is also a credit to their long history together that they understand each other so closely as musicians. Sticklers for perfect technique might notice a lighter style of bowing and an occasional sense of under-energized playing that leads to a slightly flat pitch. None of this seems to interrupt the flow of the music or its expression, which is the Cuarteto's strength. They are also capable of a clean, stately elegance, as one can hear in the Moderato from the Two Essays for String Quartet. It is a shame the composer of such fascinating, enjoyable music is not more widely known.

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