AllMusic, USA

The pairing of solo guitar with chorus might not sound like the most felicitous combination; given the guitar's restricted dynamic range, it seems like it would be easy for it to be swamped by the volume of a chorus. This album demonstrates, though, that a guitar can hold it own, with a fine balance. This is due in part at least to the skill of the composers, who frequently give the guitar a murmuring accompanimental role while the chorus is singing, reserving more intricate solo work for moments when the guitar is playing alone. Coro Cervantes, the only British chorus dedicated to Hispanic and Latin American music, has only 17 members, but it has an unusually full and sumptuous sound, warm and beautifully blended. Conducted by its founder, Carlos Fernández Aransay, the group sings with exceptional purity and brings a real idiomatic sensitivity to this repertoire. The works they have chosen are for the most part very attractive. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's warmly romantic cycle, Romancero Gitano, settings of Lorca texts, reveals a more sensual side of the composer's work than is usual and is a real revelation; this is a work that deserves to be widely performed and heard. It would be difficult to identify the five Piezas Sacras by Argentine Fernando Moruja as having Hispanic origins, but they are lovely examples of contemporary choral writing, similar in style and tone to the work of Morten Lauridsen. They are a cappella, which seems to make them out of place on this album, but the album's subtitle, "Music for choir and guitar," leaves open the option that some of the music is for choir, and some for guitar. The album's most unconventional piece is Yanomami by Brazilian composer Marlos Nobre, which invokes the ceremonies surrounding the death of a tribal chief. The guitar is the element that binds together the mix of chanting, shouting, extended vocal techniques, conventional singing, and twelve-tone choral procedures into a work of compelling dramatic unity. Carlos Surinach's English setting of the Via Crucis is the least effective selection; its brief movements are episodic and prosaic, lacking a distinctive compositional voice. The sound is clean, clear, and nicely ambient.