Machaca – Los Ambulantes
Morgan Szymanski (Guitar) Sarabande Records – SARACD003
‘Machaca’ is an ensemble of guitar, violin, cello, accordion, percussion, bass, flute and cuatro and is the name of an international ensemble of high-class musicians put together by Mexican-born guitarist Morgan Szymanski in 2006. Los Ambulantes is the second album made under this group name although the personnel for this one differs from the first album with the exception of the cellist and the accordionist. Apart from a work by the Italian guitarist Simone Iannarelli and one from Welsh composer Stephen McNeff, the programme consists of music from South America.
As with their first release, the track listing features many well-known musical works presented in a new manner due to the addition of other instrumentation. Hence the three celebrated solo guitar pieces by Venezuelan guitarist Antonio Lauro are heard with an up-tempo beat with the guitarist backed by cuatro and percussion and also Celso Machado’s wonderful Bolinhas de Queijo given a cool-jazz interpretation a la ‘MJQ’ style.
Of particular interest is the longest item on the programme, the title track Los Ambulantes here given its world premiere recording. This is a terrific piece written in a contemporary jazz mode and a work which uses the group to their full potential. It is a work of multiple musical layers and density travelling through a variety of moods and holds the attention for its full eleven minutes.
The disc is well recorded and performed with style from a seemingly very enthusiastic ensemble.
Steve Marsh, Classical Guitar Magazine April 2011.