Cuarteto Latinoamericano

Encores: Salazar, Saenz, Golijov, Gutierrez

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The Encores title of this release by the mostly Mexican Cuarteto LatinoAmericano, which specializes in Latin American music for string quartet, is puzzling. Few of the pieces could be described as light crowd-pleasers, and Osvaldo Golijov's Yiddishbbuk and Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez's Cinco para Quatro are substantial multi-movement works. The Golijov is one of the few pieces of chamber music in that very hot composer's output, and the vigorous performance by the group is worth the price of admission. But beyond these are some real small finds. A group of settings of Mexican songs by Italian bassist/composer Stefano Scodanibbio, entitled (in Italian) Canzoniere messicano, follows the lines laid down by Luciano Berio in his folk song settings: the tunes are recognizable, but the music is heavily interpreted through changes in timbre and texture. Dispersed through the program as interludes, these have a compelling combination of simplicity and rigor. The program as a whole offers a varied mix of Latin American works, music composed in the U.S. that reflects Latin influences, and a broader Hispanic continuum that looks out as far as Persia in the Rubaiyat of Spanish composer Adolfo Salazar. Booklet notes, in English only, are by violinist Saúl Bitrán. Recommended for those with any interest in the contemporary Latin American scene.

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