Santa Fe Guitar Quartet

Wapango

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The Santa Fe from which this guitar quartet takes its name is in Argentina, not New Mexico, but two of the four members are North American. The programming, even more than that of the group's competition, seems to have a pan-American aim, and this set of arrangements (all by the quartet itself, except for the Tres piezas folklóricaas argentinas of Marcelo Coronel) offers an unusually wide range of Latin American dance rhythms. The chief problem with the program is its slenderness; coming in at about 45 minutes, it might have suggested the addition of a Gershwin or Caribbean encore. But the kaleidoscopic seqence of dances is invigorating, with the sharp contrasts between Mexican/Native American and Cuban styles in Paquito d'Rivera's Tres danzas latinoamericanas constituting a standout moment. D'Rivera, a jazz saxophonist who has successfully branched off into classical composition, infuses rhythmic tension into everything he does, and the quartet's performance of Astor Piazzolla's Las cuatro estaciones porteñas (The Buenos Aires Four Seasons) makes for a rollicking, headlong conclusion, with the players showing that the body of a guitar is really all the percussion you need. Coronel's series of quieter Argentine dances creates a "slow movement" in the center of the program. The recording location is identified only as "San Francisco, California" -- too bad in that it was ideal for the tricky task of recording four guitars, but engineers, like deer hunters, have their secrets. An impressive outing from an up-and-coming group that has realized how Latin American music doesn't worry much about whether it's popular or classical.

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