Review of CD:Latin Perspective: Santiago Quartet with Ahmed Dickinson Cardenas

The CD begins with one of the first pieces ever written by Cuba's master composer Leo Brouwer, ‘quintet for guitar and string quartet' (1957). This is reminiscent of his early heroes Stravinsky and Bartok and he has cleverly combined Cuban melodic and rhythmic influences in an attempt to create a new Cuban style. It is beautifully played.

After a deliberately mocking (and quite brilliantly played) piece by the Uruguayan Miguel de Aguila which attempts to shoehorn a traditional latin dance into a lopsided 7/8 rhythm with comic effect, ‘presto II' (1988), Dickinson rejoins the quartet for a performance of Brouwer's Beatles tribute ‘Beatlerianas' (1986), in which he explores seven of the Beatles' songs in a variety of compositional styles.

The piece sounds a little too like an academic exercise to add anything meaningful to the songs although it is beautifully scored and certainly highlights the (often forgotten) importance of the Beatles to Cuban musical sensibility.

The CD closes with an excellent piece by Mexican Javier Alvarez intended to be heard by commuters using one of the busiest stations on the Mexico City subway. Metro Chabanco (1988) recalls the thrill of an imagined journey, with interweaving rhythms and snatches of melody, reminiscent of Steve Reich in their patterns and chords, played with swing and driving power. It is fittingly symbolic of the exciting musical journey on which the group has embarked.

Reviewer Dave Willetts for CubaSi magazine Autumn 2011

Latin Perspective: Santiago Quartet with Ahmed Dickinson CardenasCubafilin Records ALC004 £10.00 + p&p