Luis Leguia

American Music for Cello

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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell

On his album American Music for Cello, Luis Leguia does indeed provide listeners with an impressive array of compositions by modern composers, many of which are likely unfamiliar. But neither the literature nor Leguia's playing is the most significant (or debatable) point for discussion. Rather, it is the instrument Leguia uses for nine of the 12 tracks. Developed by Leguia and Steve Clark, the aptly named "Luis and Clark" cellos are constructed not of wood, but of synthetic carbon fiber. Leguia states he created this type of instrument to achieve more power and beauty of tone than traditional instruments. Neither is achieved. The Luis and Clark cello does not appear to project with any more intensity than any of the finer wooden instruments; the tone is noticeably nasal, without the warmth, depth, or reverberation of an instrument by one of the great makers. For comparison, Leguia performs the final piece on the program -- Evett's Cello Concerto -- on his Guarnerius cello. The difference in tone and sound quality is rather striking. As for Leguia's performance on the CD, it is regrettably as lackluster as the sound of his carbon fiber instrument. Each track is played in much the same way with little excitement or vitality to be found. Intonation is spotty at best, particularly during double stops or large shifts. What listeners are left with is an album whose primary value is for exposure to new works for the cello, not for a beautiful performance.

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