An institution in its native Peru, the progressive rock group Frágil has had little impact internationally. This live album recorded in December 1999 provides an excellent occasion to lend an ear and be charmed. Sorpresa del Tiempo features the quintet accompanied by a 27-piece philharmonic orchestra. The first two-thirds of the CD consist of a quasi-integral performance of the group's classic 1981 LP, Avenida Larco, a rock symphony. The reissue of the album in South America in 1999 provided the impetus for this concert. The remainder of the set consists of two songs from 1990's Serranio plus three new studio tracks. But the highlight truly is the Avenida Larco material. The audience sings along with Andrés Dulude throughout, a testimony to the importance of that album in Peru's rock history -- and a major sympathy factor for the listener. The orchestra is used conservatively, generally only emphasizing the keyboard parts. Thankfully, it has been mixed with taste, the engineer striking a right balance among strings, horns, and Frágil's musicians. The music includes beautiful flute parts, good straightforward rock songs, and Genesis-like instrumental sections. Dulude is a first-rate singer with a good range and a lot of warmth. "Mundo Raro" and "El Caiman" make sparks fly -- the latter has a simple but unforgettable chorus, the kind you willfully sing along to with a smile across your face. Sadly, the new songs tucked at the end are not on par with what came before. "Sorpresa del Tiempo" makes a very nice ending, but "Caras" and "Fotograma" only signify that Frágil had passed its prime compositionally. Released by Musea and thus more widely available than the group's previous efforts, this album comes recommended, if only for the impressive live rendition of the Avenida Larco songs.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture