MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

alternatively Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Leo BROUWER (b. 1939)
La ciudad de las columnas (City of Columns) (Variaciones sobre Pieza sin titulo) (2004) [13:17]
Viaje a la semilla (Journey to the Source) (2000) [9:05]
Nuevos estudios sencillos (New Simple Studies) (2001) [14:11]
Hoja de album – La gota de agua (Album Leaf – The Raindrop) (1996) [04:43]
Suite No.1, Antigua (1955) [06:42]
Manuel SAUMELL (1817-1870)
8 Contradanzas (arr. Leo Brouwer) [11:43]
Joaquin CLERCH (b. 1965)
Yemaya (1987) [10:29]
Graham Anthony Devine (guitar)
rec. 25-28 May 2006, St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. DDD
NAXOS 8.570251 [70:24]

Born in Havana, Cuba, on 1 March 1939, Leo Brouwer first learned music from his father, Juan Brouwer, a doctor and amateur guitarist. He started playing the guitar at 13. His first important teacher was Isaac Nicola, and made his professional debut at 17. In 1959 he won a scholarship to study guitar in America Hartford University and composition the Juilliard School of Music.
Brouwer started composing in 1955, writing works which had roots in what he describes as the local popular – vernacular - culture but with modern harmonies and some influence from Bartók and Stravinsky. By 1962 he had discovered avant-garde techniques but he ultimately found that the kind of European modernism was too intense and lacked the ability to relax. “There is no living entity that doesn't rest” he said and he made a conscious decision to move away from experimentalism and into a style of new simplicity, a synthesis of the best elements of popular music, the avant garde and classical music.
No matter what style he was writing in the music was always Brouwer, he forged a voice for himself and his instrument and gave that instrument a repertoire.
Naxos is currently recording the complete guitar music of Leo Brouwer and we have now reached volume 4. The music presented here is, in general, relatively recent, the earliest piece being the Suite No.1, Antigua (1955), one of his earliest works, written in a neo-baroque style heard through modern ears. Very attractive.
We jump forwards forty years for Hoja de album – La gota de agua (Album Leaf – The Raindrop), a very short and intense study of one of the most ephemeral of all things – a raindrop. But despite the brevity and severity of the musical language it’s very approachable.
Viaje a la semilla (Journey to the Source) is a different matter entirely. A complicated, concentrated, piece based on an essay by Alejo Carpentier which tells the life story of its protagonist in reverse!
The two biggest works on the disk are also the two most recent, and both are multi movement affairs. Between 1959 and 1981, Brouwer wrote four sets of Estudios sencillos (Simple Studies) which are anything but simple (available on Naxos 8.553630, played by Ricardo Lobo). Twenty years on he’s added a fifth set - Nuevos estudios sencillos (New Simple Studies). Each of the ten studies is dedicated to a 20th century composer from Astor Piazzolla to Szymanowski and Stravinsky and, as before, each study explores a different aspect of guitar technique.
La ciudad de las columnas (City of Columns) (Variaciones sobre Pieza sin titulo) is probably, the most approachable of all the music on this disk. The City of Columns is a nickname for Havana and this work is Brouwer’s own homage to his home town. The Pieza sin titulo was written in 1956 and serves as the start of this tour of the town.
Manuel Saumell wrote his Contradanzas for piano and Brouwer has simply transcribed them for guitar. They make a delightfully tuneful and uncomplicated interlude between the more serious Brouwer works. They are very sultry pieces, reminding me of the kind of music which always seems to be playing when the gringo enters the cantina.
Finally Yemaya, a seven movement suite by Joaquin Clerch, a friend and protégé of Brouwer’s. Written in 1987 it won first prize, that year, in both the National Cuban Composition Competition and the Toronto International Guitar Competition. It’s a harmless little piece with little substance and little of musical interest. One wonders why it’s been put on this disk when there’s plenty of Brouwer out there waiting to be recorded.
But the Brouwer works are what matter on this disk and the excellent La ciudad de las columnas is worth the price of the disk alone – well worth investigating. Performances and recording are everything one could want.
Bob Briggs


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.