Zsofia Boros: En Otra Parte

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Reis; Calleja; Amigo; Miller; Brouwer; Fleury; Towner; Reiter; Sinesi
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: En Otra Parte
WORKS: Works by Reis, Calleja, Amigo, Miller, Brouwer, Fleury, Towner, Reiter, Sinesi
PERFORMER: Zsofia Boros
CATALOGUE NO: 372 8783

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On first skim-listen, this collection of short solos from mostly unfamiliar 20th-century composers underwhelms: all pensive, bittersweet melodies over aching spread-chord harmonies, in anonymous lite-romantic-modern-guitar style. Nice but samey, especially when Leo Brouwer’s Un día de noviembre puzzlingly occurs twice; shades of Groundhog Day

But persevere and you’ll find a very seductive album well worth exploring. Hungarian Zsófia Boros is a natural interpreter with a gentle, slightly metallic tone – not technicolour, more a richly contrasted, crisp black and white print, like ECM’s cover-image style. The atmosphere is all closeness and intimacy: unobtrusive rustles and creaks make you feel you’re sitting right there next to her, and these definitely sound like performances, not sanitised digitisations.

It’s an oddly shaped programme, especially with that repeated Brouwer, though Boros’s subtle phrasing and shaping of this haunting piece is the emotional highlight of the album. In the occasional departures from the meditative, the flamenco-ish passion of Amigo’s Callejón de la luna – another intense highlight – and jabbing dance moves of Sinesi’s Cielo abierto show a fine and fast technique.

So don’t expect fireworks or groundbreaking composition. Listen up, though, and you’re rewarded with intensely thoughtful and attractive playing of light but tasty miniatures.

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Rob Ainsley