Straddling the northern region of South America and the westernmost areas of Central America, Colombia is a crossroads for music with Native Indian, African and European roots. And so we get the languidly melancholic bambuco, the up tempo bambuco fiestero, the elegant vals, and the rhythmically-driven porro.
Travel further south and you will encounter the sometimes intricately-syncopated or (depending) laid-back Brazilian choro. Go east from Colombia to Venezuela or south west towards Ecuador and you will hear the strains of the warp-speed pasillo in both those countries.
The Ambar Music Group became a quartet specializing in world music, among many other kinds of music, especially that from Colombia, the country of birth of three of its members. By happenchance or by design of the gods of music, a Russian violin virtuoso Sasha Rozhdestvensky joined the Ambar members, carrying, no less a Guarnieri del Gesu and a Strad on loan from an angel.
The peripatetic Constantin Orbelian was invited by DELOS to accompany the Ambar members in two of the thirteen tracks, and two more musicians augmented a couple of the tracks.
The results are marvelous.
The entire album, even when the music is nice and slow and voluptuous, is energizing. Often toe-tapping cross-rhythms defy one to get up and dance (which I did a couple of times). The playing is virtuosic, not surprisingly given the conservatory chops of these four musicians.
But past one’s visceral reactions to this deeply honest music and its dazzling execution, one feels gratitude to Delos and to Francisco Gonzalez, Nelson Gomez, Juan Fernando Garcia, Sasha Rozhdestvensky and Constantin Orbelian for introducing a vast number of us to this fabulous repertoire.
Rafael de Acha