Recent Releases Tuesday: CDs from the Canadian Guitar Quartet, Mats Bergström, John Sargent, and Dimitris Kotronakis

Dimitris Kotronakis

Here’s our bi-weekly listing of some of the CDs that have come into the Classical Guitar office recently.

If you have a CD you’d like to submit to us, here’s our address:

Classical Guitar
501 Canal Blvd. suite J
Richmond, CA 94804-3505

Some of these will be reviewed in the magazine, some not. But we want to at least mention them here. You can listen to some of these on various of streaming services, but we always encourage you to support the artists by actually buying anything you like!

To see our previous listings, scroll to the bottom of the page.

—Blair Jackson

Mappa Mundi
Canadian Guitar Quartet
ATMA Classique

The latest from this venerable quartet—Julien Bisaillon, Renaud Côté-Giguère, Bruno Roussel, and Louis Trépanier—is filled with life and adventure. After starting with a stately, crowd-pleasing historical piece—a cello concerto by Vivaldi (arranged by CGQ member Roussel)—the rest of the CD is devoted to four contemporary works that are considerably less conservative and more modern, with more dissonance, leaping and abrupt tempo and rhythm shifts, but still at least on the edge of melodicism much of the time. Patrick Roux’s Concierto Tradicionuevo offers an interesting mutation of familiar Argentinean musical elements, while Hans Brüderl’s Octopus (listen below) goes from rhythmically manic to elegiac, and also includes some lovely, lilting passages; it’s quite a piece. The invigorating title work, which has a Bernard Hermannesque opening (think Psycho) and closing—and more sonorous movements in between—also features guest cellist Rachel Mercer, to nice effect.

Concerto for Two Cellos in G Minor, RV 531 (Vivaldi); Fille de cuivre (Côté-Giguère); Concierto Tradicionuevo (Roux); Octopus (Brüderl); Mappa Mundi (Donkin)Sample and buy through ATMA Classique or Amazon.

This video of Hans Brüderl’s Octopus (the only piece from the album we could find on YouTube) is a somewhat distant single-camera video, but it does capture the brilliance of the piece and the Quartet’s playing.

Little Cathedrals
Jonathan Sargent
Suite 28 Records

The Chicago native, now living outside of Nashville, has plied his trade around the world for several decades and appears to have absorbed much  in his travels, particularly from Spanish/Latin composers, from Rodrigo to Piazzolla, who are among those who have clearly influenced many of the compositions on this pleasantly derivative CD of his original compositions. The liner notes for the album state that Sargent makes “kinder, gentler music” designed to have “a harmonizing effect on body, mind and soul,” and it does succeed on that level. Many of the songs feature pretty, if predictable, string arrangements, and overall few chances are taken. But it’s definitely an “easy” listen many might enjoy (and its nicely recorded).

Spanish Sun Blazin’; Even Now, Tango #4; Una Buena Noche; Más Que Siempre; For You; Dos Enamorados; Evocación; Sonata in E; Fuego; Bienvenido a La Danza; Original Adagio; Reading, PA/A Requiem (all by Sargent)


Stream and/or buy through Amazon, or stream through YouTube. Here’s an audio-only YouTube version of one the loveliest tracks on the album, Más Que Siempre.

Água e Vinho
Mats Bergström & Georg Riedel

Swedish guitarist Bergström, double-bassist Riedel (who appears on more than half the tracks), and various other musical friends offer a rich and satisfying buffet of Brazilian styles, ranging from a half-dozen Villa-Lobos chôros (performed solo by Bergström), to breezy bossa-pop numbers by Jobim and Gilberto (aided by plenty of appropriate percussion and more), and also tunes by Egberto Gismonti, Baden Powell, Luiz Bonfà, and more. There are a few guitar overdubs and also some electric guitar (though nylon-strong dominates), all played by the talented Bergström (who might be known by some of you for his Naxos Tárrega CD from a few years back, or from his January 2004 cover of Classical Guitar).

Chôro Para Metrónomo (Powell), O Trenzinho do Caipira (Villa-Lobos); Água e Vinho (Gismonti); Waltzing (Powell); Euridice (de Moraes); Luiza (Jobim); Quem Te Viu, Quem Te Vê (Buarque); Chôro No. 1/”Tipico”  (Villa-Lobos); Manhã de Carnaval (Bonfà); Mazurka-Chôro (Villa-Lobos); Água de Março (Jobim); Schottish-Chôro (Villa-Lobos); Angela (Jobim); Valsa-Chôro (Villa-Lobos); Casa Forte (Lobo); Gavotta-Chôro (Villa-Lobos); Estate (Gilberto); Chôrinho (Villa-Lobos); Moments (Elias)

Individual tracks can be heard through YouTube (here’s a link to Manhã de Carnaval), and the CD can be purchased directly from Mats’ website.

Here’s Mats playing Villa-Lobos’ Mazurka-Choro a few years ago. It sounds better on the new CD!

Dimitris Kotronakis
Soundset Recordings

Greek guitarist Kotronakis’ latest is an an excellent and very diverse collection of pieces by a fine international cast of modern composers—Atanas Orkouzounov (Bulgaria, though his title track is filled with Japanese inflections), Stĕpán Rak (Czech Republic; his two pieces are Russian-influenced); Carlo Domeniconi (Italy), Thanassis Moraitis (Greece), Gerard  Drozd (Poland);  Sérgio Assad (Brazil); and the ubiquitous Astor Piazzolla (Argentina). Every piece Kotronakis has chosen goes someplace interesting, and he is equally comfortable with balladic presentations such as Drozd’s beautiful Bach-influenced Adagio, Op. 44 or Domeniconi’s A Step to Paradise, the Piazzolla tango Zita, or demanding multi-textured works like Toryanse Tales and Assad’s epic Fantasia Carioca. Outstanding all the way around!

Toryanse Tales (Ourkousounov); Kaygorod (Rak), Balalika (Rak); A Step to Paradise (Domeniconi); Toccata in Blue (Domeniconi); Sketch No. 9 (Moraitis); Sketch No. 1 (Moraitis); Adagio, Op. 44 (Drozd); Suite Troileana: Bandoneón, Zita (Piazzolla); Fantasia Carioca (S. Assad)

Below, Kotronakis plays the Japanese-flavored title track. It begins at 1:06 (after a spoken introduction):

Previous New CD Listings:

October 4: Jacob Cordover, Oleg Timofeyev and John Schneiderman, Arkaïtz Chambonnet, Matthew Fish, Gidi Ifergan

October 18: Norbert Kraft and Jeffrey McFadden, Steve Cowan, Katrin Endrikat, Jason Vieaux and Julien Labro, Yenne Lee, Emanuele Segre

November 1: Virginia Luque (and Bojidara Kouzmanova) Jon Gjylaci, Fabiano Borges, Alfonso Baschiera, Miscelanea Guitar Quartet, J.P. McShane

November 15: Antigoni Goni, Adam Levin, Radoŝ Malidžan, Black Cedar, Lou Marinoff, Antonio Malinconico

November 22: Marcelo de la Puebla, ChromaDuo, Carsten Pedersen, Thibaut Garcia, Yiannis Giagourtas

December 13: Zsófia Boros, Andrea Bissoli, Philippe Sly & John Charles Britton, Carlos Dorado, and Steven Joseph

December 27:  João Carlos Victor, Frank Wallace, Simon Thacker & Justyna Jablonska

January 10: Alberto La Rocca, Jeffrey McFadden & Michael Kolk, Stefan Koim

January 21: Fabio Zanon, Marcelo Kayath, David Norton & Cindy Spell, and Jeff Gosselin