Manuel Barrueco Friday February 25, 2011
Manuel Barrueco and Cuartero Latinoamericano
Bring Class to Cerritos
By Glen Creason
The concert “Sounds of the Americas” at the Performing Arts Center was a perfect example of the great value of this theater to all of Southern California. While not packing the house, Manuel Barrueco and the Cuartero Latinoamericano performed a wonderfully challenging and uncompromising concert of compositions done by Latin American composers rarely heard in the southland. The choices came from all parts of
Central and South America and represented contemporary classical music from the 20th and 21st century, polished with plenty of verve and spirited playing. With one exception, Barrueco put himself within the group and essentially played as part of the whole making the Cuartero a Quintero. This shows the devotion of maestro Barrueco to the music since he is one of the most accomplished classical guitarists performing. Then again, the Cuartero plays at the highest level and he is in great company. The enthusiastic crowd of aficionados present certainly appreciated the effort and lusty shouts of bravo met the conclusion of this evening of fine music.
At Cerritos the show encompassed a large part of terra Latino including Barrueco’s native Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, and even that North American region known as Michigan. The program began with the sweetly lyrical and decidedly romantic “Las Presencias No. 6, Jeromita Linares” by Argentine Carlos Guastavino. With the guitarist leading the way the piece almost sounded like film music, full of a wistful sentimental quality but probably the most classical sounding on the program. This may have lulled the audience into a dreamy state but that was shaken loose by the rather avant-garde “Bay of Pigs” by Michigander Michael Daugherty, that was filled with tension and drama. At times there was more plucking of the violins, viola and cello than bowing but the overall effect was arresting especially in the pulsating “anthem” that completed the three pieces. “Metro Chabanaco” from Mexican Javier Alvarez was performed just by the string quartet in a driving and energetic tempo, reflecting the busy train station that inspired the piece.
The second half of the concert opened with Barrueco’s solo playing of the exquisite “Danza Lucumi” by Cuban émigré Ernesto Lecuona. While much of the program was daring and edgy this delicate and joyful dance was just like a warm, tropical gust of melody. “Boliviana” by the Uruguayan Miguel de Aguila was once more extremely evocative, much like good film music, beginning with the dark “returning home under the rain” and finishing with the bright “and the sun came out.” Lastly, were a set of compositions by the brilliant Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla called “tango sensations” then “milonga del Angel” and Muerte del Angel which expanded the tango and the listeners musical experience. This was music to ponder, not to dance to. The audience thought very well of the Piazzolla by standing and shouting bravos which drew the five gentlemen out for an encore that unfortunately was not announced from the stage but was beautifully done.