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Cancion De Cuna: Guitar Music from Cuba - Marco Tamayo
Edward SIMON (b. 1969) El manicero (The Peanut Seller) [4:33]
Nico ROJAS (b. 1921) Gunyun Ė El maestro [2:10]; En el abra del Yumuri (In Yumuri Bay) [4:52]; Francito y Alfronsito [2:38]; Lilliam [4:21]; Guajira a mi madre (Guajira for my mother) [4:10]
Carlos FARINAS (1934-2002) Preludio [3:41]
Aldo RODRIGUEZ (b. 1955) Cancion [3:03]; Danza [1:52]
Harold GRAMATGES (b. 1918) Suite breve [8:01]
Leo BROUWER (b. 1939) Cancion de cuna (Berceuse) [4:04]; Zapateo [2:19]; Ojos brujos (Bewitching eyes) [2:41]
Carlos FARINAS (b. 1918) Cancion triste (Sad song) [2:55]
Hector ANGULO (b. 1932) Cantos Yoruba de Cuba [13:58]
Marco Tamayo (guitar)
Rec. St. John Chrysostom Church, New Market, Ontario, Canada, 17-20 December 2002 DDD
NAXOS 8.555887[65:31]


There is little which better typifies the traditional music of Cuba than the solo acoustic guitar. While in Europe and America the guitar is mostly a vehicle for folk and popular music, in Cuba it is an instrument steeped in tradition, in the realms of jazz, classical, as well as Spanish folk. The works composed for it are in the traditional European forms, the tonalities often modal or impressionist, and the techniques and rhythms distinct enough actually to be referred to as ĎAfro-Cubaní.

This album is an exploration of many diverse works written for the nylon string guitar in the latter half of the 20th century. As such it takes several different composers and styles of Cuban guitar music and presents them unadorned in their beautiful simplicity.

The album begins with the relatively familiar El manicero (The Peanut-Seller), which Stan Kentonís orchestra so memorably and admirably performed (under the title The Peanut Vendor). The version presented here is a treat to listen to, and a wonderful way to introduce the album.

The following works are by Nico Rojas, a Cuban composer and guitarist who was instrumental in the revivification of Cuban popular song in the 1940s, Harold Gramatges and Carlos Fariñas, both neo-classical composers who had studied with Aaron Copland, Aldo Rodríguez who has been often recognized by the international musical community for his excellence in composition, and by the Cuban government as a musical treasure, Leo Brouwer, internationally recognized as a film score composer and founder of the Cuban Guitar Competition and Festival, and Hector Angulo. The result is diverse enough to maintain interest, while similar enough to maintain a consistent feel.

The performer, Marco Tamayo, does an excellent job. His recorded technique is flawless, both when using the traditional European style of picking and strumming, and the more Spanish and Caribbean influenced techniques. A native of Cuba, he had the opportunity to study under many of the composers presented on this disc. This is fully evident in the loving care he gives these works. The recording itself is very well done, and does a nice job of highlighting his technique.

In short, this album is very good and highly recommended. Much of the work may be unfamiliar, but none of it will be unapproachable. Each piece is a gem, wonderfully written, performed, and recorded. The album is suitable for background or mood music, but excels when scrutinized and given active attention. Short of buying a ticket for a weekend excursion to Havana, this is certainly one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the musical traditions of Cuba that this reviewer has come across.

Patrick Gary

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