Muy cerca

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As in any other country, there are a few, select composer names in Mexico and Brazil that nearly or entirely overshadow the works of others. In Brazil, the dominant name is of course Heitor Villa-Lobos; for Mexico, one of the most prominent art music composers has been Manuel Ponce. Cellist Gustavo Martín, on his album entitled Muy Cerca, seeks to showcase works not only by these more well-known composers, but also compositions by those who work more in the shadows. The resulting program is one of great appeal and potential, featuring works for cello accompanied by various combinations of piano, flute, and guitar. Especially interesting are the works of Radamés Gnattali and Eduardo Gamboa for cello and guitar, and amazingly appealing synthesis of sound palates. The performers heard here almost live up to the potential offered by these varied and unique pieces -- almost. The overall recorded sound quality is almost good, but the cello's sound is sometimes rather muffled, especially when playing in the same register as the guitar. Martín's technique and intonation are almost there, too, but there are a number of fuzzy shifts and hazy rhythmic figurations. Many listeners may be OK with the occasional shortcomings for a chance to hear some new, quality repertoire; others may wait in hope for a slightly stronger, more uniform performance.

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