Quadro Nuevo – Mare (GLM Music, FM 260-2. CD review by Jane Mann)
Like almost everyone else this year of the Great Plague, my travel plans have been completely thwarted. I had intended to go to the Mediterranean, the “mare” in the title of this new CD from German acoustic outfit Quadro Nuevo, and my word how this recording makes me ache for the warm South, and mourn for my lost freedom of movement.
When they are not travelling the globe, the award-winning quartet live in Upper Bavaria. They met in 1996 to work on a film soundtrack, and discovered a mutual love of “Arabesques, Balkan swing and the melodies of old Europe – Italian tangoes, French waltzes, Aegean melodies…” as they put it. They have toured extensively since then, and this is their 16th album.
Their music is light, accessible and charming. This is unabashed nostalgia music, redolent of what the band terms “the Mediterranean lightness of being”. It conjures up silvery olive groves, white pebble beaches and sitting under festoon lights on warm summer nights.
If you have a taste for Argentine Nuevo Tango, French Bal Musette, Jacques Tati film soundtracks, or the film scores of Francis Lai, then you will enjoy this.
Most of the tracks are written by members of the band, with a couple of exceptions. Their delicate arrangement of the popular Neapolitan canzone Torna a Surriento, complete with mandolin, and an imaginative piano solo, has been in their repertoire since recording a version for an audiobook of Goethe’s Italian Journey in 2007. Their take on the theme to Cinema Paradiso is reflective rather than sentimental. Their own compositions travel through France (Plage á Trois, a pretty swinging waltz) and Italy (Ragazzo Samba and Beach Anno ’75, both with distinct retro Brazilian tinges), down into Greece (Ikarus’ Dream) and then continue south as far as Cairo. Café Groppi, named after a meeting place of artists and intellectuals in that city, is written by their guest star oud player Basem Darwisch. What the pieces have in common is faultless musicianship and a love of poignant melody.
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Mulo Francel plays reeds and mandolin. Accordion and vibrandoneon maestro Andreas Hinterseher also doubles on trumpet and flugelhorn. The rhythm section is D.D. Lowka who plays both graceful bass, and percussion. Chris Gall provides lyrical piano. The broad variety of instruments makes a full sound – any gaps in the musical palette are filled in by guest musicians, in particular the enchanting contributions by Quadro Nuevo regular Evelyn Huber on the grand concert harp.
Oh to hear acoustic music in the open-air, by the sea, and – in the pauses between the tunes – the sound of cicadas and the lapping of waves. In the meantime, we have Quadro Nuevo’s Mare to ease our collective longing.
LINK: Quadro Nuevo’s website