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Leo Brouwer: Beatlerianas

Brouwer / Barbosa-lima / Havana String Quartet
Release Date: 04/09/2013 
Label:  Zoho Music   Catalog #: 201304   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Leo Brouwer
Performer:  Carlos Barbosa-LimaLawrence Del Casale
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If you’re new to the sophisticated world of Leo Brouwer, this is an ideal introduction. Plus, the perfect Beatles-classical crossover.

This CD is incredible fun. Leo Brouwer is a great composer, known mainly and justifiably for his guitar music but capable of many different delights. Brouwer, a Juilliard graduate who studied composition with Vincent Persichetti and Stefan Wolpe, has a diverse output and doesn’t limit himself to one voice or style, a strength fully on display here.
 
The disc starts with its most obvious crowd-pleaser. Beatlerianas is a very creative arrangement of seven Beatles tunes for guitar and string quartet. And I really mean creative: Brouwer appends his own
Read more colorful introductions, smartly recasts moods, adds a guitar solo here and there, and really puts these works into a new light. I read somewhere that a musicologist considers Paul McCartney one of the great classical lied composers, and this suite helps prove the point - five of the seven were written by Paul, and they feel natural in classical garb. It also demonstrates Brouwer’s imagination and his affection for the originals. I can’t think of a “classical Beatles” tribute I’ve ever liked this much.
 
In stark contrast is the Fifth String Quartet, with its darker, shadow-filled lento opening proving that Brouwer is also a keen student of recent music of the classical variety. There are even hints of Soviet-type composition and American minimalism - Reich maybe? The “Celebration” that follows is even closer in spirit to Brouwer’s contemporaries in the avant-garde, but never difficult to enjoy on its face thanks to its grounding in dance rhythms. The quartet, written in 2011, stands in contrast to the Guitar Quintet from 1957, when the teenage composer was wearing his national folk-styles on his sleeve.
 
All the solo guitar music here is excellent, as one expects from Brouwer. The Micropiezas for two guitars, which the booklet calls a tribute to Milhaud, are delightful tunes, the last of which will be very, very familiar to every listener … and is subjected to well-crafted variations. Earlier in the program we hear three short, excellent guitar solos which paint vivid images in sound.
 
I’d never heard of the Zoho Music label before, but they’ve put together an excellent album: the Havana String Quartet plays well and with keen enthusiasm, matched by the redoubtable guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima. The booklet quotes praise of Barbosa-Lima from Brouwer himself. Larry Del Casale makes a cameo as the second guitarist in Micropiezas, the sound is forward and enjoyable, the booklet well-written: all told, whether you’re drawn to Brouwer’s more abstract or his more crowd-pleasing work, or if you’ve never heard the sophisticated work of this Cuban composer, the CD’s a real treat. It’s worth it just for what might be the perfect Beatles/classical crossover. Now I’m going to track down the Havana Quartet’s earlier disc with String Quartets Nos. 1-4.
 
-- Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. From Yesterday to Penny Lane by Leo Brouwer
Performer:  Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986; Cuba 
Length: 21 Minutes 35 Secs. 
2. Paisaje Cubano con Fiesta, for guitar by Leo Brouwer
Performer:  Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Guitar)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2007 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
3. Cantilena de los Bosques, for guitar by Leo Brouwer
Performer:  Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Guitar)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2007; Cuba 
Length: 3 Minutes 35 Secs. 
4. Zapateo, for guitar by Leo Brouwer
Performer:  Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Guitar)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1973 
Length: 2 Minutes 57 Secs. 
5. String Quartet No. 5 by Leo Brouwer
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2011 
Length: 13 Minutes 13 Secs. 
6. Micropiezas (5) by Leo Brouwer
Performer:  Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Guitar), Lawrence Del Casale (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Cuba 
Length: 1 Minutes 29 Secs. 
7. Quintet for Guitar and Strings by Leo Brouwer
Performer:  Carlos Barbosa-Lima (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 17 Minutes 5 Secs. 

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