Mexican Cuarteto Extremo is made up of woodwinds at the extreme ranges of their family -- piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet, and contrabassoon, with each of the players doubling on the more conventional version of his instrument. Since there is absolutely no repertoire for the ensemble, the group set about commissioning composers, primarily younger Mexican composers, to write new works and make arrangements of other pieces. The best of these pieces demonstrate completely persuasively that this is in fact a viable ensemble that ought to inspire other composers to take on this odd combination of instruments. Most of the pieces recorded here have a strong Latin flavor, and the combination of traditional dance rhythms with this instrumentation makes for some very quirky but attractive music. Javier Macías' Ana Elizabeth, Arturo Márquez's Portales de Madrugada, and Eduardo Gamboa's Transparencias are the most effective examples of this style. The most successful piece here, and the one that takes the fullest advantage of the ensemble's potential, one that should be strong enough to stand out almost anywhere, is Dante Bazúa's Vislumbrando, a zany romp that leaves the listener breathless with its energetic convulsions and many melodic and rhythmic unpredictable turns. The quartet's playing is gleefully virtuosic -- the playfulness behind the enterprise is evident throughout. The sound is clean, spacious, and realistic. The CD should be fun for fans of Latin/classical crossover, woodwind ensembles, and new music.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|El Monstruo, for piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet & contrabassoon|
|Ana Elizabeth, for piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet & contrabassoon|
|Transparencias, for flute & strings|