The Christmas album and the guitar ensemble are two of the most consistent sales drivers in classical music, and it may seem odd that the two haven't been yoked together more often. This release by the perennially popular family group Los Romeros should help address any lack, however. It's a pleasing, diverse collection that provides plenty of opportunity for the Romeros to display their relaxed way with a simple tune. But it changes gears enough that it doesn't fall into a monotonous groove. Concerto Málaga conductor Massimo Paris takes on the black belt of crossover composition, the creation of original Christmas music, with his X'Mas Suite, an attractive five movements that shift among different moods and idioms while still connoting the holiday. That piece is nicely balanced between chamber music and guitars (there are four, and the work was written for Los Romeros). The balance in some of the other orchestral pieces, most of which Paris had a hand in, is not so successful; the strings get the tune in the two excerpts from Handel's Messiah, with the guitars a bit overshadowed in figuration below. But most of the limpid traditional tunes, traditional and not so much, do not use the orchestra at all. These aren't perfectly integrated with the orchestral pieces, but any one of them shows the Romeros at their best, with the sheer melodic smoothness that has garnered countless fans without even any particular interest in guitar music. The bottom line is that this is likely to prove a pleasing holiday album for a great many listeners.
Christmas with Los Romeros Review
by James Manheim
|X'mas Suite, for four guitars and chamber orchestra|