Leo Brower: Concierto Elegiaco; Danzas Concertantes; Quintet

Leo Brower: Concierto Elegiaco; Danzas Concertantes; Quintet

by Denis Sung-Hô Janssens


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Leo Brower: Concierto Elegiaco; Danzas Concertantes; Quintet

The music of Cuban composer Leo Brouwer is underrated, but perhaps the appearance of this disc by a Korean-Belgian guitarist, Denis Sung-Hô, is evidence that his music is beginning to be heard beyond circles devoted to Latin American music. The truth is that, except for some early works, Brouwer sounds Latin American only at a deeper level (there is a parallel to Ginastera here, although the styles of the two composers rarely converged), and his output for the guitar likewise avoids the traditional Spanish stylistic roots of that instrument almost entirely. Indeed, at times Brouwer seems almost to challenge himself to make the guitar's utterances heard clearly in difficult surroundings. Perhaps the most attractive of the three works heard here are the"Tres Danzas Concertantes" of 1958, which have a vaguely neo-classic sound and fall into the fast-slow-fast configuration of the Baroque concerto. The boundaries between solo and tutti are sharply drawn -- almost as sharply as in a Vivaldi concerto, but Vivaldi was not writing for the type of modern orchestra that Brouwer is here. Why doesn't the orchestra overwhelm the guitar with its sharply uttered chords? Brouwer lets the musical structure define the guitar's realm -- the guitar simply proceeds down individual paths that are interesting enough that the ear is drawn away from the orchestra. The "Quintet for guitar and string quartet" also dates from the late '50s, early in Brouwer's career; it is the most "Cuban" of the three pieces, with Afro-Cuban rhythmic ideas in evidence. They are treated with an abstractness that foreshadows what was to come in Brouwer's music, however. The "Concierto Elegiaco" is a later work, commissioned by the BBC, that weaves a great variety of sounds and ideas (the Indonesian gamelan is one exotic influence) into a lyrically expressive whole. Guitarist Sung-Hô has the right mixture of intellect and expressive muscle to make sense of Brouwer's music, which is rather complex without partaking much of the last century's systematizing impulses, and his cooperation with the backing ensembles, the Chapelle Musicale de Tournai and the Quatuor Alfama, is positively electric. An excellent introduction to a key twentieth century composer. Notes are in French and English.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/13/2007
Label: Fuga Libera Label
UPC: 5425005575240
catalogNumber: 524


  1. Concerto for guitar & orchestra, No 3 ("Concierto elegiaco")
  2. Tres danzas concertantes, for guitar & string orchestra
  3. Quintet for guitar & string quartet

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