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David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2020

We have now reached the fifth volume in the complete works for guitar by the Cuban-born octogenarian, Leo Brouwer, and covering the period from 2012 to 2015.

That links back to the previous release in the series made in 2007, and brings us up to date with his compositions in this mode, though in his prolific output the series is only scratching at the surface of his vast portfolio. He is one of the few Cuban classical composers to have found international recognition, though he owes his musical education to years spent in the United States studying composition at the Juilliard School of Music. There he was much influenced by the music of Cage, Nono and Henze, which placed his music at the cutting edge of modernity. As I have previously remarked, I admire rather then enjoy much of his music, which here are mostly ‘picture’ works representing an event or a person.  Elves and Gnomes is the opening movement of the Third Sonata, a score that flirts with melody and music of the past, and I did much enjoy the playful Dance of the Wind. The composer considers the Fourth Sonata, The Thinker’s Sonata, as one of his most valuable pieces, a description that includes the repose of In Praise of Meditation. The Fifth Sonata, Ars Combinatoria, is an abstract score in three movements, opening with a Toccata and concluding in popular mode with a Danza alla Rustica. The disc opens with the second volume of Danzas Rituales y Festivas based on Cuban themes. Much of the disc does not call for extended periods of virtuosity, but the music requires an inner feeling for the composer so as to provide a shape to movements that are frequently slow moving and sparing in notes. The distinguished Spanish guitarist, Pedro Mateo Gonzalev, has an affinity to Brouwer, and he has the benefit of another outstanding guitarist, Norbert Kraft, to record him last year. The result is perfection in sound engineering. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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