FAME Review: Leo Brouwer - Beatlerianas
Leo Brouwer - Beatlerianas


Leo Brouwer

Zoho Music - ZM 201304

Available from CD Universe.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

This disc is actually primarily an exposition of composer Leo Brouwer's work but is kicked off with a highly unusual set of almost Merchant Ivory-esque cinematicized Beatles songs arranged as a septet suite transposing the oeuvre into semi-medieval, semi-neoclassical milieus for internationally recognized guitarist Carlos Barbosa Lima and the Latin Grammy-winning Havana String Quartet to flesh out in lush recital. A high degree of Romantic Impressionism pervades the entire CD, starting off by imbuing Eleanor Rigby with a Greensleeves-ish flavor it's never before been accorded. By the time She's Leaving Home arises, you'd swear you were at a baroque court waltz with king, queen, and barons. As I say: quite unusual.

Barbosa Lima has a delicate touch rife with filigree but very assured, making the most of his nylon-strung instrument, letting the softened attack of the fingerpicking blend more readily with the accompanying violins, viola, and cello. The hoo-rah and blazon of the original Got to Get You into my Life is expertly sublimated into complex runs as the Quartet larks about above him, exuberant but smooth, sometimes even a trifle dissonant to add just the bit more punch. Then, when John, Paul, George, and Ringo take their bows, we're treated to three solo guitar pieces, starting with Paisaje Cubano con Fiesta, a Towner-esque piece of modern classical beauty—and Ralph, at his villa in Italy, will be in rapture over Lima's minstrations. It's follower, Cantilena de los Bosques is riven with Satie, spare, haunting, and memorable, evanescent as a desert dawn.

The String quartet enters in the pointillistic Lento, ethereal and neoclassical, as though Giya Kanchelli were listening, whispering in Brouwer's ear. Celebration picks up the pace, angular, skipping from stone to stone in a dark lake. It is, believe it or not, a rumba but unlike what the world knows of the form, reaching back into the mode's South African roots. Brouwer's educating the globe at large while limning an exotic, spacey, fragmented melancholy. Marvelous! The piece easily stands with the best modern classicalism has to offer and would not be at all surprising to find in ECM's catalogue.

The exquisite Micropiezas for two guitars follow as tribute to Milhaud, but I hear Mompou as well, not to mention Tarrega. On these, Lima is joined by Larry Casale, and I'm minded of nothing so much as Towner again, this time in his duets with John Abercrombie. But where Ralph and John reached for the stars, Leo and Larry dig their feet firmly into the warm sands of a moody cay on the ocean as wind and dark clouds scud by, exhilarating and foreboding simultaneously. The whole CD wraps up in Lima reunited with the Quartet (Deboarah Yamak, Eugenio Valdes, Jorge Hernandez, and Hoang Linh Chi) for the three-movement Quintet—and if you might have harbored even the sligtest doubt that Leo Brouwer is a potent force in modern classical musics, this will settle that rather unquestionably…though it fits on the borders of jazz as well. Things don't get much more refined than this.

Track List:

  • JOHN LENNON/PAUL MCCARTNEY (arr: Leo Brouwer) BEATLERIANAS for Guitar and String Quartet (1985, revised 2012)
    • Eleanor Rigby
    • Yesterday
    • She's Leaving Home
    • A Ticket To Ride
    • Got to Get You into My Life
    • Here, There and Everywhere
    • Penny Lane
    • Lento
    • Celebration
  • LEO BROUWER: Works for Guitar Solo
    • Paisaje Cubano con Fiesta (2007)
    • Cantilena de los Bosques (2007)
    • Zapateo (1973)
  • LEO BROUWER : MICROPIEZAS (1957-8) for two guitars
    • No. 4
    • No. 2
    • No. 1
    • No. 3
    • No. 5
    • Allegro
    • Quarter = 60
    • Allegro Vivace

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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