Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leo Brouwer, Afro-Cuban Guitarist, Composer & Conductor Born March 1, 1939

[ABOVE: Leo Brouwer BELOW: Leo Brouwer: The String Quartets, The String Trio; Havana String Quartet; Zoho Records 201108 (2011)]

The Afro-Cuban composer, classical guitarist and conductor we now know as Leo Brouwer was named Juan Leovigildo Brouwer when he came into the world in Havana, Cuba on March 1, 1939. He is featured at His enormous influence on guitar music in particular and classical music in general is demonstrated by more than a hundred recordings on which he has played, composed or conducted. Brouwer's compositions reflect classical, Afro-Cuban, jazz and avant-garde influences. His many film scores have brought his music to the attention of a huge audience around the world. Brouwer's influence in his native country results in part from the important positions he has held in Cuban music institutions.

The sheet music of Leo Brouwer is available from Chester Novello, It is hugely popular with professional and amateur guitarists alike.

Leo Brouwer initiated the Havana String Quartet in 1980. It recorded Leo Brouwer: The String Quartets and String Trio on the ZOHO Music label as ZM 201108 (2011). As Leo Brouwer writes: “This recording won the LATIN GRAMMY for Best Classical Recording in November 2010!” The CD won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Classical Recording in November 2010, but was released to the public in August 2011. Jerry Rubins reviewed the recording for FANFARE Magazine, and concluded with these words: “This is a wonderful recording by an ensemble of superb players, one that I can strongly recommend.”

Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,, provides us with his review of the recording:
“An initial contact with the music of Leo Brouwer (1939- ) is enough to convince any listener that this composer is quite distinct from his contemporaries. Most of the previously available recordings (there are many) offer new insights into the potentials of the guitar. But now we have yet another definition of contemporary music with this CD, Zoho Classix ZM 201 108 (2011) by the superb Cuarteto de Cuerdas de la Habana paying tribute to Brouwer's 70th year.

“The liner notes (English and Spanish) are substantial and properly laudatory, but there is no explanation why Au clair de la lune is quoted or those ghostly fragments culled from the past, why a percussion (wood block?) appears, as well as the players counting (in English), or those jazz moments. Maybe because of politics, we do not have evidence of the composer's relationship to his Cuban heritage. To identify some kinship to Bartók (to whom the first quartet is dedicated) does not diminish the works' originality. The intensity of introspection equates not only that of Bartók, but also late Beethoven. Here then is a valid stimulus for a monograph and most welcome addition to the repertoire.”

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