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Quartetto Gelato – All Original 100% Canadian – QGPI Records

Quartetto Gelato – All Original 100% Canadian – QGPI Records – 010 54:31 ****:

(Peter de Sotto – violin & voice; Alexander Sevastian – accordion; Colin Maier – oboe; Liza McLellan – cello)

Quartetto Gelato may be regarded as a quixotic Canadian classic music ensemble, that delves into other genres such as tangos, gypsy music, and folk songs with equal ferocity. This versatility is on offer with their latest release, appropriately titled All Original 100% Canadian.

Hilario Duran is a Cuban-born pianist and composer who came to Canada in 1998 and made a name for himself both in his adopted country and beyond, as an innovator of Afrocuban music. His “Aventura Afrocubana Suite” has three components Tango Congo, Habanera, and Contradanza. With the addition of percussionist Mark Innero, the Quartetto tackles the composition with inspiration and effervescence. “Gypsy Fantasia” which follows, opens with a vocal by Peter De Sotto, with additional cello from Lydia Munchinsky. The group is fully aware of the required texture of the gypsy form, with the accordion of Alexander Sevastian demonstrating that he is harmonically fluent with the needs of the composition.

There are two other long-form pieces in this recital. Firstly there is “Una Storia D’Amore” by Rebecca Pellett containing C’era Una  Volta, Amori Di Occhi Blu, L’estasi Dell’Amore  followed by the Michael Occhipinti composition “Sirocco And Ballu Di Gelato with components of the same name. In the Pellett piece, there is a sense of melancholy throughout all sections, with Peter De Sotto’s melodic tenor voice carrying the load in the second section. Colin Maier offers a glimpse of his versatility, with his fleet-fingered mandolin playing in the introduction to the third section. Occhipinti is a Canadian guitarist and composer who crosses all genres from jazz to chamber music. With addition of percussionist Kevan McKenzie and cellist Lydia Munchinsky, Quartetto has added a musical dimension that fully captures the expressive harmonic markings of the composition, which has an Arabic flavour in the first section. The second section has a more languid tempo initially, but is equally sophisticated. The tempo picks up with a tarantella-styled theme which is smartly structured.

Colin Maier picks up the banjo for Canadian composer Howard Cable’s “On The Crowsnest Trail”. That is the perfect complement for Peter De Sotto’s vocal, which tells an evocative story about this geographical link.  The Crowsnest Trail is the southern most rail and highway pass through the Continental Divide of Canadian Rockies from Alberta to British Columbia. This is a delightful ice cream and not just for Canadians.

TrackList: Aventura Afrocubana Suite; Gypsy Fantasia; Une Storia D’Amore; Celtic Dances; Sirocco And Ballu Di Gelato; On The Crowsnest Trail

—Pierre Giroux

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