Cuba Percussion / Klazz Brothers

Classic Meets Cuba

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Well, it's certainly a novel idea: three German classical and jazz musicians collaborate with a pair of Cuban percussionist/vocalists to put the classics in a Cuban style. That's fine -- there's really no need to be precious about Beethoven, Mozart, et al. after all this time. And there's a certain kitsch value about the disc -- good for a bit of a laugh at parties. However, look past that and there's actually something good and remarkably skillful happening here. Brahms' Hungarian Dance becomes "Cuban Dance" quite convincingly, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 is reborn as "Salsa No. V," which may be taking things a bit too far over the top, but in a way that brings smiles instead of weariness. Bizet's Carmen Suite is a natural for this kind of adaptation, and "Carmen Cubana" works perfectly. The centerpiece, however, is the three movements of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 "Pathétique," which become totally transformed by some staggering arranging into a Cuban epic, grand and romantic, and the quieter Bach Air, where subtlety is the key. "Flight of the Bumble Bee" features some truly virtuosic bass playing from Kilian Forster, while his pianist brother, Tobias, shows his delicacy of touch on the Chopin Étude, Op. 10, No. 3. But when front and center, every single person here is vital and creative. So come for the kitsch, and stay for the music. Cuba and the classics do make good bedfellows.

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