In 2006, the Berman Brothers (Frank & Christian) created and produced the Album “Rhythms del Mundo”, a non-profit collaborative effort which fused an all-star cast of Cuban musicians including Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo of the Buena Vista Social Club. The new album released on the occasion of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Just as “Rhythms del Mundo” Cuba, it contains rearranged pop hits, but this time in a Brazilian Samba and Bossa Nova sound garment. In order to achieve the authenticity that also distinguished “Rhythms del Mundo: Cuba, the Berman Brothers recorded with Brazilian musicians, as well as internationally popular pop-voices.
Spanish colonies in Central and South America emerged as wellsprings of cultural activity throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. The meeting of indigenous populations with Latin American cathedrals and courtly life resulted in styles bearing the imprint of folk music, even in sacred compositions. The sophisticated musical culture of Guatemala City Cathedral is represented in an archive of hundreds of works, several of which are recorded here. The guitars, harp, voices and percussion of acclaimed ensemble El Mundo bring to life the vibrant and at times hypnotic dance rhythms of Spain, Africa and the New World, creating a sound unique to this region, and one that still flourishes to this day.
This album takes off from where a previous Jordi Savall release, Villancicos y danzas criollas (Creole Dances and Villancicos), left off. Now Savall, aided by his wife and lead vocalist Montserrat Figueras, as well as several of his longtime co-conspirators, has formed a new group, Tembembe Ensamble Continuo, specifically devoted to the Latin American Baroque repertory heard here. The album is accompanied by an impressive 172-page booklet, with all texts in the original language, generally Spanish but with mixtures of Native American and African speech, English, French, Castilian Spanish, German, and Italian, and booklet notes (in all those languages plus Catalan), including an overview of the genres involved plus a historical essay on the culture of the Spanish-colonized Latin-Caribbean region.
The rich variety of colours and rhythms in South American culture and music are an essential feature of this programme, which focuses largely on music by composers from the Ecuadorian Andes. Opening with Durán’s popular and crowd-pleasing Leyenda incásica, the theme of Ecuadorian dances continues in Jacinto Freire’s Suite, which also celebrates the flight of the condor. Virtuosity, evocations of landscape and expressive traditional songs can all be found here, concluding with Mexican composer Samuel Zyman’s internationally acclaimed Flute Sonata No. 1, which ranges from lyrical introspection to intensely contrapuntal dialogue.