|Here's the full review of this recording, from UHF No. 66
Klavier K 11125
Rejskind: The violin is a wonderful instrument, but the cello...well, the cello is something else again. Its deep sonorous tones awaken in me something that is beyond words. If an instrument has a soul, the cello is it.
There are, fortunately, more than a few works for solo cello, or at least for the cello in a solo role, but far fewer than for the violin. It is always a pleasure to run across new cello music, especially when it is as gloriously beautiful as the music on this recording.
"Alma Latina" of course means Latin soul. All of the music on this disc is from Latin America, much of it from well-known composers, and some (but not all) in transcription. It is of course of mixed interest, but some of it is of sublime beauty.
Take for example the supremely beautiful Pequena Suite by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. I admit I hadn't heard it before, but then Villa-Lobos wrote some 1500 works, so it's easy to miss one or two. The suite was one of his first published works, and was actually written for cello, an instrument both Villa-Lobos and his father played. He had toured Brazil gathering up folk melodies, though he didn't much use them in this suite, which is rather more European in style. The rhythms suggest Brazil, however, rather than the dances of Renaissance Europe. It is, in any case, gorgeous.
Also written for cello is Astor Piazzola's Grand Tango. The name comes from the fact that it lasts three times the three-minute length that Piazzola favored, supposedly to get radio play. Like many of Piazzola's intellectually-oriented tangos, this one cannot safely be dance to. Piazzola dedicated it to the great Russian cellist Mtislav Rostropovich, who, curiously, didn't know who Piazzola was. It was year later that he looked it over, saw at once that the composer -- who was not a cellist -- had made some technical errors. He ultimately got together with Piazzola to fix the errors, and this is he final version we hear on this CD.
Another of the delights on this recording is a cello arrangement of Manuel de Falla's Siete Cannciones Populares Españolas. The title is self-explanatory, though de Falla seldom actually quoted real folk music. There are several instrumental transcriptions of these songs. This one is quite wonderful.
I had never heard Juan Morel Campo's all-too-brief Bella Illusión, though it took but one play for it to seem familiar. It is gorgeous.
There two especially familiar pieces on the disc. Pablo de Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen is most familiar in its violin transcription, but takes on a warmer tone in this version. And Manuel Ponce's Estrellita sounds like a popular song, because it is, and it became famous in that form. However, the pop version is simplified, without the complex modulations of this cello transcription.
The other pieces are by the great Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, and by Manual Gregorio Tavárez and Joaquin Turina.
The Puerto Rican cellist Emilio Colón, accompanied by pianist Sung Hoon Mo, plays this music with style and feeling. The sound, by Bruce Leek, is neither flat nor showy. It is exactly as it should be. This recording is highly recommended.