Huáscar Barradas

Folk Music From Venezuela

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A nice collection of Venezuelan tunes from the ARC label. The ensemble of musicians on the album hails from Venezuela in large part (with a stray Argentinean playing guitar), but all reside in Germany. They are led by outstanding flutist Huascar Barradas here, going over a number of the basic styles and standards of Venezuelan folk music. The album starts out with a joropo (a form based on the harp and cuatro), then moves on to a piece of merengue and a danza zuliana (a livelier dance form). They display some bambuco and an interesting form: the quitiplas, a bamboo stamping tube piece vaguely similar to the genre from the Solomon Islands, but with a more distinctly African flavor to the rhythm. The piano is introduced in a valse, and a polo follows soon after. Throughout the album, the playing is decently tight, but Barradas' flute playing is the real star. The tones are clear, and he moves at just the right tempos to fit each song. He has a light touch that glides properly through the middle of the ensemble in every piece, laying itself out for the listener's ear. For a purist, an album featuring musicians residing somewhere in Venezuela might prove to be somewhat better, but at the same time, this ensemble of expatriates does a good job of providing an overview of the major styles of folk music from the relatively small nation. Pick it up as a nice and easy to find album if you're a beginning listener to the genre, and move up to something slightly more authentic as you progress. But for plain aural delight, it's still an enjoyable album regardless.

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