Cuban composer Leo Brouwer has combined popular materials from the Western hemisphere with European styles in a manner related to the music of Villa-Lobos and Ginastera. The former comparison is more apt in the case of this set of pieces for guitar and string quartet, featuring the fine Cuban guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Brouwer is adept at stepping across the line between popular and classical, sometimes repeatedly within the same piece. There's a real find here: the Beatlerianas, which may only in the broadest sense be classed as arrangements of Beatles songs. They are constantly shifting treatments, completely unexpected yet often, in retrospect, seeming almost logically dictated by the tune. Some of them pull the music in neo-Classic or neo-Baroque directions; some are almost abstract texture studies. Yet none loses sight of the source material. It is a richly rewarding little set, probably clearer in this reduced version. Elsewhere you get a good sampling of music from various phases of Brouwer's career, tending toward popular styles (the Paisaje Cubano con Fiesta, track 8) or European and perhaps Soviet neo-Classicism (the String Quartet No. 5) but never losing sight of the opposite pole. The Micropiezas for two guitars, composed in 1957, are each about a minute long; they were supposedly written in homage to Darius Milhaud, but their intricate counterpoint and absolute economy suggest a kind of New World Mompou. The engineering from the small Zoho label in New York state is superb, and this is a deeply satisfying release on all counts.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Beatlerianas, for guitar & string quartet|
|String Quartet No. 5|
|Micropiezas, for 2 guitars|
|Quintet, for guitar & string quartet|