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Ricardo Cobo : Leo Brouwer Guitar Concertos : CD

BROUWER: Guitar Concerto No3 – Elegiaco ; Guitar Concerto No4 – Concerto de Toronto

Ricardo Cobo with the Pro Musica Kiev, conductor Richard Kapp

Essay Recordings: CD1040

Leo Brouwer is one of the most well – known guitar composers still with us. At 82 years of age he has written a phenomenal amount of guitar works (as well as many other non – guitar pieces) His list of guitar concerti now has reached 12, whilst his other guitar works include more than 40 solo works. 8 duos, 9 works for guitar quartet, and works for guitar and string quartet, and other non- concerto pieces for guitar and orchestra. So a recording of anything of his music is always a worthy event. Here his Cuban compatriot Ricardo Cobo plays the 3rd and the 4th concerti with the help of Pro Musica Kiev and conductor Richard Kapp.

No3 has often been one of the world’s favourite Brouwer concertos, being dramatic and yet lyrical but with a modern tinge to it that is creates a wonderful mix of emotions, drawing listeners in to its sound world of three movements, an opening Tranquillo that manages to also sound torn and almost defeated in its tranquility, leading to a brief Interlude and a final hair- raising Toccata that brings the movement and the concerto to a sudden violent end. The playing of Cobo is wonderful and absolutely up to the challenge of this beautiful piece, and the orchestra is fine if at times a little wrongly balanced in my opinion, as there are occasions where the guitar and orchestra don’t quite have the correct sound mix.

The fourth Concerto – Concerto de Toronto begins quite differently with a Moderato that in spite of its speed marking has a lot of forward movement in it and is very optimistic in its sounds leading eventually to a very fast – fingered conclusion. The Theme and Variations that is the middle movement is much more emotive and relaxed at the beginning and by far the longest of the 3 movements. The subsequent variations take the guitarist through all manner of technical and musical requirements and the whole movement is deep and at times rather mysterious which only makes for an interesting experience as you don’t know where the music is going to go. In the end the variations just stop without any real ending, leading straight into the Finale that begins freely before becoming an Allegro that again goes through multiple emotions and different musical ideas. Eventually the whole concerto comes to an optimistic end that almost catches the listener unaware, but is yet again another wonderful addition to the guitar concerto, played superbly by all concerned, and sounding very original, and very accessible in its modernity.

This is a fine pairing of two marvelous concerti, and although there are a number of other recordings of them available, one played by a Cuban guitarist has got to amount to a worthwhile recording. Yes I have heard slightly better sound mixes at times, but there is nothing here to make you change your mind. If you find this CD you will enjoy the experience, and Cobo is a fine guitarist.

Chris Dumigan

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