The Meridian Arts Ensemble, which consists of a brass quintet plus percussion, straddles the line between classical and various pop genres. Its repertoire includes Lutoslawski, Hindemith, Scarlatti, Gesualdo, Jimi Hendrix, and Zappa, LOTS of Zappa, with whom the group worked extensively late in his career. For its ninth release, the group put together a terrifically fun album of Latin-inspired music. The arrangement of Ocho por Radio by Silvestre Revueltas filters traditional dances through Stravinskian rhythms and harmonies, to a zany effect. Other pieces, such as Piazzolla's Oblivion, are less complicated but no less sophisticated in their use of conventional forms. The straightforward but ear-opening arrangement of the familiar Aria from Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5 accentuates the work's polyphonic character due to the distinctiveness of each instrument's color. Even the more abstract pieces, like Dafnis Prieto's Echo-Dimensions and Tania León's Saóko, showcase the group's ability to cut loose and play with an abandon and joy that's contagious. En par de los levantes de la aurora (At the same time as the dawn) by Mexican composer Ana Lara stands apart from the other works; it's an evocative tone poem that sustains a mood of rapt mystery. The group plays with an exemplary sense of ensemble and with consistently rich, clear tone. The sound of the Channel Classics SACD is vivid and enveloping.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, for voice & 8 cellos, A. 389|
|Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1, for 8 cellos, A. 246|