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Classical Music Review

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Composers: Various
Performed by: Various
Label: Ansonica Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 13 October 2017

Ansonica Records’ new release Chévere richly explores and demonstrates the myriad cultural intersections that have recently become available to American and Cuban musicians. The album came together at a recording session that took place in Havana, Cuba in January in 2017. The release presents a variety of collaborations between American, or American-based, composers and Cuban instrumentalists, arrangers, singers, and composers. Some of these connections are relatively straightforward, while others are more nuanced and personal; yet, they all enrich the compositions on Chévere with the energy unique to the interaction of two powerful musical traditions...

This wasn't an album I found easy to digest... at first. It's strengths are also its main weakness. The diversity is something to be championed, but at the same time it makes it a hard album to listen to from start to finish - as there will be tracks you love and others you don't get on with.

Arthur Gottschalk’s 'Imagenes de Cuba' and John A. Carollo’s 'In Your Hour of Need' represent the album’s most nuanced and personal connections to Cuba. Gottschalk’s work draws on his many trips to Cuba, referencing various elements of modern Cuban culture as observed in his travels. Carollo’s piece, on the other hand, gains its Cuban character directly from the input of Chévere’s producer in Havana, Dayron Ortega, who arranged this work for instrumental ensemble.

If you're a fan of modern classical music then you'll find much to appreciate here. For me, the one track that stood out head and shoulders above the rest was J.A. Kawarsky's 'Grace Dances', with oboe solo performed by Frank Ernesto Fernández Neira.

Track listing:

01 - Imágenes de Cuba: I. Manisero - Apollo Chamber Players
02 - In Your Hour of Need (Arr. D.O. Guzmán) - Pedro Luis González García
03 - Akhat Sha'alti: I. Akhat - Schola Cantorum Coralina
04 - Akhat Sha'alti: II. Otah Avakesh - Schola Cantorum Coralina
05 - Akhat Sha'alti: III. Shivti B'vet Hashem - Schola Cantorum Coralina
06 - ¡La Habana, Mi Amor! (Arr. D.O. Guzmán): I. Cena Romántica - Kat Parra
07 - ¡La Habana, Mi Amor! (Arr. D.O. Guzmán): II. Mi Postre, Mi Amor - Kat Parra
08 - ¡La Habana, Mi Amor! (Arr. D.O. Guzmán): III. ¡Chocolate Caliente! - Kat Parra
09 - Oseh Shalom - Schola Cantorum Coralina
10 - Son de la Loma - El Manisero - Maykel Elizarde Ruano
11 - Grace Dances - composer: J.A. Kawarsky; oboe: Frank Ernesto Fernández Neira


Darren Rea

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