Cuba: Contradanzas & Danzones

COMPOSERS: 19th Century Cuban
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Contradanzas & Danzones
PERFORMER: Rotterdam Conservatory Orquesta Típica/Daniel Guzmán


Contradanzas & Danzones presents itself as a Cuban rescue act. It doesn’t say why the producers took the almost lost, 19th-century repertoire to a Dutch group instead of using the elderly band they heard in Santiago, but the music is highly distinctive this way.

The sources are French with a touch of Spain, not much of Africa, and the numbers are composed in polite upmarket forms like colonial Johann Strauss, for an ensemble dominated by clarinets and violins.


The rhythms plod, but the playing has gusto and makes a fine calling card for Rotterdam Conservatoire, where the thriving world music department puts Britain’s conservatories to shame.