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CD Review: Gypsy Strings
Ole Guapa
Zoltan Racz: Piano Accordion
Bruno Nasta: Violin, Electric Violin, Vocals, Percussion
Jon Nazdin: Double Bass
Vladimir Fridman: Guitar


Ole Guapa: Malando
Concierto de Aranjuez: Rodrigo
Joao e Maria: Sivuca
Farewell: Cuatromano
Siciliana: Apollionio
Tango in D: Albeniz
Maria Marie: Lecuona
Nocturna: Plaza
Pavane Pour une Infante Defunte: Ravel
Tango pour Claude: Galliano
Pou Una Cabeza: Gardel
Blauer Himmel: Rixner
Las Coronelas: Collazo
Paciencia: Juan d'Arienzo
Fuga y Misterio: Piazzolla

total time: 50 min. and 05 sec.
released: December 2000
review date: January 2001

As of 2.24.02 this cd was out of print.

Review by Robert Karl Berta :

I previously reviewed a Gypsy Strings CD (Music of Planet Earth) and loved it. The exquisite musicianship, great selection of tunes and excellent recording quality made it one of my favorite CDs in my collection. I have been waiting for a while for their new release. I was excited to get a copy of it recently and couldn't wait to get it on the CD player to see if it could stand up to the lofty standard set by that other release. Well, I am pleased to tell you that this one is excellent also. Is it as good as the first? Well I recommend that you get both and see what you think!!

Unlike that first CD this one doesn't wander quite as much from ethnic genre to genre. Instead it focuses more on Latin tunes in keeping with its theme and title song, Ole Guapa, but with one interesting exception. Throughout the CD I am reminded of why I enjoyed the first one so much - the excellent performances by all the musicians. The bass player is a little more in the background. Come on guys - lets hear him strut his stuff some more. But the other three instrumentalists really shine. Bruno Nasta plays a mean violin with lots of feeling, Vladimir really works his guitar and Zoltan has some of the crispest accordion technique I have heard.

The various Latin numbers have excellent arrangements and are well paced. The only hesitation I had was at the strange inclusion of a Ravel piece, Pavanne Pour une Infante Defunte or Pavanne for a Dead Infant. This piece is one of my favorites and normally is a very somber piece and rightfully so since it was written for the funeral of a royal princess. I fully expected this to be the downfall of the CD - a misguided choice. But this was quickly quelled when I started listening to it. Darn if they didn't give the piece a Latin beat!! Yeah I know - that spinning sound you hear in the background is Ravel spinning in his grave - but I like it!

Among the goodies here was the theme from the movie "The Scent of a Woman" which is one of my favorite movies. Every time I hear this tune I remember that poignant and dramatic Tango dance scene - gives me chills up and down my spine every time.

This recording also broke new ground when the musicians joined in on some vocals. While the songs are OK (yeah, Pavarotti doesn't have to worry) I really loved the effect they had on Las Coronelas. Musical representations of a crowd marching by and drums (simulated by the accordion) and whistling and crowd noise really made you feel you were in the town center and involved in the parade. This may have been the highlight of the whole album for me.

This CD doesn't break any new ground from the previous one except for the singing. But it continues and maintains a very high standard set in the previous recording. Now the hard part will be waiting for the next release.

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