Paquito D’Rivera & Quinteto Cimarrón · Aires Tropicales

Not only is every track on this CD “perfection” but each proclaims artists of exceptional calibre, establishing their positions as important players of Cuban classics. And without doubt they are a quite wonderful clarinetist and a string quartet in their prime, with a thrust and command of brilliance and musical energy that are controlled by vivacious personalities. Listening to them in pieces which articulate their journey from the beloved Cuba, you sense all over again, how obviously this music comes from the heart and how what is expressed is indissolubly linked to its technical execution, both for the clarinetist as well as for Quinteto Cimarrón; the one illuminated the other. Characteristic of D’Rivera, and the string Quintet everywhere is an ineluctable forward movement, a thrust and passion for what is to come, in the light of what we are hearing now and what we’ve heard a moment ago. The freshness and directness are delightful, the virtuosity often breathtaking, but their control is as much musical as it is technical. Truly exciting interpreters, they are able to make you feel how the total structure of a classical Cuban piece, not just the surface, has an audible power.

You may notice small lapses in acuteness of perfectly judged expression—I think very few—but the dynamic life of the music is always there, together with a concern for its character and the achievement and articulation of the larger shapes. You hear music unleashed from the instruments of Paquito D’Rivera and Quinteto Cimarrón as if from a coiled spring and as exciting as I’ve ever encountered it. The clarinetist excels in such inspirations and there are numerous examples throughout this repertoire especially in “Introducción y Guajira…” a particularly balletic piece, thrown off with exceptional grace. By the time you reach such moments you have come to cherish each player’s immaculate rhythm and strict timekeeping, which has nothing to do with swallowing a metronome. Playing a tempo with this degree of élan and finish derives from a discipline that Paquito D’Rivera may have learnt to adhere to in his days of studying in the conservatoire in Cuba. The music on this disc is a rousing success; with “Longina” and “La Comparsa” ranking as notable additions to this distinguished discography.

I mentioned small lapses in the acuteness of expression. You don’t identify them by comparing this group to any other. Paquito D’Rivera and Quinteto Cimarrón are a group like none other. And their brilliance is palpable. Their playing is deeply romantic; almost heroic in their ability to convey the joyful fingerprint of Cuba, no doubt with a large dose of nostalgia. But this might be so because all of the musicians are expatriates in either Spain or the United States of America. In sum my impressions of Paquito D’Rivera and Quinteto Cimarrón are of their selfless concentration, understanding and boundless musical energy and in everything offered their command of timing and of the glorious variety and drama of these compositions, I retain too a sense that their space and reach have been encompassed.

Track List – Alborada y son; Wapango; Habanera; Afro; Contradanza; Martica; Tamborichelo III: La Cubana; Longina; Notas de la Habana; Introducción y Guajira – 2nd movement, work for clarinet and string quartet; Al fin te vi; Zumolandia; A la 1830; Isora club; La Rity; Doña Vainilla; La Comparsa.

Personnel – Paquito D’Rivera: clarinet and saxophone; Eduardo Coma: 1st violin; Lázaro W. González Peña: 2nd violin; Raymond Arteaga: viola; Luis Caballero: cello; Oscar Rodríguez: contrabass.

Released – 2015
Label – Sunnyside Records
Runtime – 1:03:05

Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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