Various Artists

Orlando Jacinto García: Fragmentos del Pasado

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Cuban composer Orlando Jacinto Garcia is more interested in, as he puts it, "counterpoint between registers, density and sonority" -- in other words, timbral and textural juxtaposition -- than in the harmonic counterpoint on which Western composers have traditionally concentrated. For that reason, the five pieces collected on this CD may come across as rather minimalist at first listen, but in fact they are both complex and sensuously lovely, even when their harmonic movement is gradual and the gradations of movement are subtle. This album opens with the title work, which is scored for a traditional ensemble of guitar plus string quartet, but uses battuto and plucked harmonics to produce highly unusual and deeply beautiful sounds. The other works are not quite as gripping; the piece for double bass and tape and the one for saxophone and tape are both more interesting conceptually than sonically, but "Timbres Artificiales," for solo guitar, uses scordatura in a way that is both surprisingly and conventionally lovely. The album ends with a live performance of an orchestral work titled "Vedute Sonore da Bellagio," which is well performed under less than ideal circumstances. This is not a perfect album, but it's certainly an impressive one, and leaves the listener looking forward to the next collection of pieces by this composer.

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