* Works by Turina, Koshkin, Cordero, Reis, Piazzolla, and others.
Alexander-Sergei Ramirez, guitar.
Edge Music B0002125-02 Total time: 71:08
Summary for the Busy Executive: Music mostly to nap by.
The program derives from a concept: guitar music from around the world,
rather than just from Spain and Latin America, the two guitar powerhouses.
Accordingly, we get music from every continent -- Europe, Asia, Africa,
North America, South America, and Australia. It must have sounded like
a good idea. However, effective guitar programs are rather tricky to
put together. Let's face it: a lot of guitar music plows the same
meditative furrow. Ramirez has, unfortunately, not sufficiently varied
his selections. Many of the pieces, fine on their own, fade to beige
in their present group. Furthermore, Ramirez -- although technically
capable -- doesn't seem to understand the difficulty his program sets
him. Consequently, large stretches of this CD simply go by, like the
scenery in central Ohio.
One of course finds exceptions. Turina's Sevillana, the opening track,
has become a guitar classic, deservedly so -- not only a tour de force
for the fingers, but an exciting panoply of color and rhythm. All the
heat dissipates with the next cut, Carlo Domeniconi's Koyunbaba suite,
inspired by Turkish music. I can't believe Turkish music is as bland
as this work makes it out. With the third track, Nikita Koshkin's
Merlin's Dream, interest picks up again, mainly because of the unusual
guitar writing, invoking, among other things, the balalaika. Nevertheless,
we return quickly to the predictable. One of the more ambitious works,
Alejandro Allauca's Koribeni No. 2, begins with musique concrete effects
evoking jungle downpours, screeching birds, and jungle cats. This sort
of thing goes on for a couple of minutes, and while you marvel at the
composer's deep understanding of the guitar and the player's skill at
realizing these effects, musically it all adds up to less than Dilermando
Reis's "Si ela perguntar," which aims only to charm. My favorite cut
has to be a transcription of Piazzolla's Verano Porteno, a tango fiery
and nostalgic by turns, with more than its share of surprises.
Despite the awards and acclaim collected by Ramirez, I'm not all that
fond of him as a musician. He strikes me as good, but not exceptional.
The technique, professional quality without a doubt, doesn't outstrip
other guitarists, nor does it approach the super-virtuosi Ricardo Cobo
and Pepe Romero. There's some, although not a lot of noise on the fret
board, for one thing. Furthermore, Ramirez occasionally drops the musical
thread, as if he hasn't completely focused. He hasn't got Segovia's
flair for meditation or Bream's wide palette and high musicality. Despite
the Turina and the Piazzolla, I'd give this one a miss.
S.G.S. (April 2005)