This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar |By Blair Jackson
The late New York–based Brazilian Carlos Barbosa-Lima, who died at age 77 this past February, was rightly considered one of the greatest classical guitarists and arrangers of the modern era, a virtuoso of the highest order, and so versatile. He tackled everything from Handel to Cole Porter to The Beatles, and regularly played jazz at a high level—but he was especially known for the unparalleled depth and sensitivity he brought to Latin and South American repertoire.
This latest release, Manisero, in a career spanning some 70 albums finds him paired with another excellent and versatile guitarist—his occasional duo partner, German Johannes Tonio Kreusch—on a collection of short pieces from such well-known South American and Latin composers as Brazilians Heitor Villa-Lobos, Luiz Bonfá, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and Pixinguinha; Argentinian Alberto Ginastera; and Mexicans Agustin Lara and Manuel Ponce. I was not familiar with Cuban composer/pianist Moisés Simons, whose catchy and spry “El Manisero” kicks off the proceedings with tremendous flair. On that track, and three others, the guitarists are joined by Kreusch’s piano-playing brother Cornelius, and the blend of the three of them is truly sublime. Bonfá’s “Manhã de Carnaval,” “Cielito Lindo” by Mexican composer Quirino Mendoza y Cortes, and Ponce’s “Estrellita” are the most famous numbers here, but they are all worthy selections, played with great feeling, fluidity, and precision; Barbosa-Lima’s Richard Prenkert guitar and Kreusch’s Fritz Ober meshing perfectly throughout. It shows a guitarist at the top of his game until the very end.