Cuba: Contradanzas & Danzones

COMPOSERS: 19th Century Cuban
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Contradanzas & Danzones
PERFORMER: Rotterdam Conservatory Orquesta Típica/Daniel Guzmán
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5502

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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.

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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.