> BROUWER Guitar Music Vol 2 [AD]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Music for Guitar Vol. 2

El Decamerón Negro
Preludios Epigramáticos
La Espiral eternal
Variations on a Theme of Django Reinhardt
Paisaje cubano con tristeza

Elena Papandreou – Guitar
NAXOS 8.554553 [73:13] Superbudget


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It has been a few years since Naxos (Naxos 8.553630) released their first volume of guitar works by Leo Brouwer. These were played by Ricardo Cobo. That disc comprised many of Brouwer’s early pieces, "Elogio de la danza", "Cancion de cuna" and the "Estudios Sencillos" etc. The current disc (Volume 2) draws on Brouwer’s middle period of composition; pieces that are more avant-garde and minimalist in nature and in some respects perhaps gives an insight into this multifaceted composer's interests outside music. Allegedly, the "La Espiral eternal" (1971) was influenced by the double-helix strand of DNA, the building block of life, while "Canticum"(1968) is representative of an insect emerging from its pupa (this work incorporates the unusual detuning of the 6th string down a semi-tone to E flat). The 1980s saw Brouwer on a new track, described by him as "national Hyper-Romanticism", which produced one of his most popular and frequently played works, the three movement "El Decameron negro". Written for the American guitarist Sharon Isbin and influenced by the writings of the anthropologist Leon Frobenius the work explores the Cuban-Afro folk traditions of Brouwer’s native Cuba. Completely new to me, and I must say very pleasurable are the six "Preludios Epigramáticos" (1981), well done Naxos for including them here. Also of interest is "Variations on a Theme of Django Reinhardt" (1984), as it is the only work to date that Brouwer uses the theme and variation form, the theme being the jazz guitarist of the title’s most enduring composition "Nuages" - an indication of Brouwer’s wide musical tastes.

This is guitarist Elena Papandreou’s second recording for the Naxos label. Like this disc her first was of all 20th century music but by a collection of various composers Stravinsky, Dyens, Koshkin etc., What the two discs have in common is Papandreou’s totally convincing performances. This selection of Leo Brouwer’s work puts many unusual technical demands on the performer due to some of the unorthodox sounds required but Papandreou’s strong use of tonal and dynamic variations consistently provides authoritive and engaging performances.

While it is doubtful this music will have a wide appeal, for enthusiasts of Leo Brouwer I would say this CD is invaluable.

Andy Daly

See also Andy Daly Brouwer page


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