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David Solis Olson

Sketches of Latin America

David Solis Olson PictureDavid Olson is likely to be a name unfamiliar to many classical guitar followers this side of the Atlantic. This latest review will surely go long way towards addressing this. David was a finalist and semi-finalist in several international guitar competitions, most notably, the 2002 Music Teachers National Association Solo Competition and the 1994 National Solo Competition of the American String Teachers Association in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Mr. Olson currently resides in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, where he is adjunct instructor at Davidson College and maintains an active performing career as a free-lance musician, solo recitalist and chamber player.

Make no mistake, this is a skilfully compiled and extremely well-executed recording from start to finish. The fact that David Olson has performed in masterclasses for such classical guitar luminaries as Roland Dyens, Angel Romero, Manuel Barrueco and David Russell should therefore come as no surprise as you listen to this recording.

Self-produced, this debut 2006 recording is professionally and beautifully presented. The CD itself incorporates intricate art work,Sketches of Latin America CD picture with the middle of the disc ressembling a guitar soundhole with the strings coming off it. Programme notes are intelligently conceived too, with composer biographies and piece notes appearing directly below each track listing making it easy for the listener.

Whilst this recording centres exclusively on Latin American pieces, the pieces have been cleverly selected to really show the player’s versatility to handling different guitar styles and genres. Notable variants to the more traditional pieces/styles on offer from the South America composers, Augustin Barrios, Antonio Lauro and the Latin American tangos of Astor Piazolla are, the baroque inspired Suite in A minor by Mexican composer, Manuel Ponce and the much-loved Sonata by the renowned Cuban composer/player, Leo Brouwer. 

Clarity of the melodic lines and clear voice-leading really standout in this release, none more so than in the opening and concluding pieces by Augustin Barrios, "La Catedral" and "Una Limosna for el Amor de Dios". A notable diversion from many previous recordings of the Una Limosna piece is the way the guitarist introduces a very slight pause between the base (thumb) and opening upper string tremolo notes which whilst takes a couple of runs to get used to, really does much to portray the image of an elderly beggar raising their frail arm to request alms from passers-by, as Barrios had indeed intended.

Four short Waltzes by the Venezuelan composer, Antonio Lauro then follow. Once again, all are beautifully performed. On offer here are "Tatiana", "Andreina", "Natalia" and "Yacambu", all of which where named after memorable people and places in the composer's life. Then comes the intriguing work "Suite in A minor", written by Manuel Ponce at the request of the legendary Andres Segovia to create a work in the style of Bach. Indeed, without the sleeve notes you'd be forgiven for not thinking this was a late 18th century from the hands of the baroque master himself. Stylistically, this is a clever piece of juxtaposition on the player's part and is a well-conceived counterbalance to the preceding short Lauro works.

Piazolla and Brouwer then follow. In both cases, David Solis Olson puts on an impressive display of rhythmic and percussive technique to really bring these 2 sets of pieces to life. First up are "Cinco Piezas" (5 pieces) by the father of the "nuevo tango" Astor Piazolla. Interestingly, these were the only pieces Piazolla ever specifically wrote for guitar-a real shame given that the inherent expressiveness of the composers lends itself perfectly to the classical guitar.

Piazolla then gives way to Brouwer's popular and much-loved 3 part work "Sonata". Written in a neo-romantic style the piece really demands complete mastery of the instrument, in particular the ability to control a wide range of dynamic effects. All of these are performed with relative ease and non more so in the final movement. Subtitled "La Toccata de Pasquini", an overt reference to to the opening of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, "Pastorale" can easily be heard.

We can't recommend this release highly enough. No matter, that none of these are likely to be new to you, this is a really fresh and much-sought after perspective on these guitar classics. Go on, treat yourself!

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“Sketches of Latin America” is distributed internationally through CD Baby and is available through Amazon.com and Apple’s iTunes, among other major online media outlets.

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