Dino Saluzzi/Rosamunde Quartett
ECM (www.ecmrecords.com)

Don't jump to conclusions about this one. A first impression might indicate that this CD is some sort of a tango/classical hybrid, and there are a few moments of that here, but this music is largely based on the modern European classical tradition. The bandoneon often functions like a fifth voice in the quartet, rather than a featured solo instrument. The music is mostly tonal, with a few flurries of dissonance creeping in. It's also mostly slow, so one tends to focus on textures rather than melodies. (One of the pieces here, "Milonga de los morenos", is at times reminiscent of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight", which in terms of mood and harmonic sophistication is a pretty good summary of this CD.) It's tempting to call this "postmodern classical" or something similar to capture the sense of Saluzzi's compositions. The main period of inspiration for this music seems to be the late 19th and early 20th century, but the addition of the bandoneon's reedy timbre gives an otherworldly air to a familiar sound. This is the kind of take on the string quartet literature you'd expect to hear from the Kronos Quartet. Saluzzi makes the most of his tonal possibilities here, and if the music isn't always memorable it's often intriguing and very skillfully executed. - Joe Grossman

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