This recital from Havana-born
Marco Tamayo provides a fascinating
insight into the influences on Cuban
guitar music. We are informed that Cuban
culture is an accumulated blend of Spanish
colonial rule which ended in 1901, religious
influences from various émigré
populations and the more recent exposure
to North American culture. It is these
multi-faceted influences which have
significantly shaped the direction of
music which contains an amalgam of jazz,
blues, traditional European Classical
and Romantic music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms,
twentieth century harmonies et al.
In short it has to be appreciated that
Cuban music contains a immensely colourful
and diverse mixture of influences.
Cuban by birth and
Austrian by adoption Marco Tamayo proves
himself to be a fine guitarist. His
playing is rather understated which
seems to assist the mood of the music,
with more subtlety than flamboyance,
more sensitivity than grit; unaffected
rather than pretentious. Tamayo leaves
the listener with a real sense of ‘a
soloist at one’ with this repertoire
from his homeland. The only one of the
seven composers on this release that
I am familiar with is Leo Brouwer who
acted as a music spokesman for the Revolution
and is arguably Cuba’s best known composer.
For the most part I
did not find this Cuban music for guitar
to be thrilling or uplifting but rather
moody, reflective and accessible. Mainly
uncomplicated in expression and relying
on mood painting rather than melodies,
it is difficult to classify stylistically.
The lyricism is more restrained than
the guitar music from Spanish composers
such as De Falla, Tarrega, Torroba,
Albeniz et al. It is no coincidence
that my two favourite works on the release
were the ones which were the most melodic,
namely Edward Simon’s El manicero (The
peanut seller) and Brouwer’s Cancion
de cuna (Berceuse).
No problem with the
sound quality here and the release has
interesting and informative annotation.
An exceedingly well performed release
from Naxos but not one that I will be
revisiting for a while.
see also review
by Patrick Gary