Terruño, the latest recording by Paraguayan guitarist Berta Rojas is fresh, exciting, and truly an amazing recording. It contains some lesser known guitar music and transcriptions by South American composers Vincent Lindsey Clark, Quique Sinesi, and Egberto Gismonti.
The music on Terruno proves to be some of the most expressive and idiomatic guitar music in the repertoire and creates invocative dream-like soundscapes which are enhanced by Rojas's delicate, dynamic, and passionate performances. Her love for the music recorded here shines through in each piece, and she expresses her emotions for the music in the brief description she wrote for the liner notes.
"Terruno, for me invokes the scent of jasmines, the fire of the passion fruit flower, red earth, warmth and affections, and from afar the stillness of absent embraces."
"Laura," the opening track, is sure to capture ones attention as it is lively and joyful. Vincent Lindsey Clark explains that he named the piece after his daughter and that it reflects a small child at play. The melody is catchy and Rojas executes the fast scale passages with a delicacy and grace that really add to the playfulness of the piece.
"Pasaje Abierto" written by Edin Solis is an exciting piece of music which was originally written in 2000 for a small ensemble to perform. Solis arranged this piece for solo guitar in 2005 so that it could be used as the set piece in the Costa Rica National Guitar Competition.. The piece opens with a slow "preludio" that seems to draw on new age jazz harmonies and bolero rhythms. It is the perfect introduction to the second movement "Danza", which is a beautiful display of arpeggios in E major. The melody stands out in the bass to mid range of the guitar and has a strong Afro-Caribbean influence. The use of slurs, harmonics, percussive effects and the Afro-Caribbean rhythms really make "Danza" an attractive piece.
Among the many incredible moments on Terruno, the three pieces by Quique Sinesi conjure up vibrant images in the listeners mind and are truly magical in nature. "Cancion Hacia Vos" is captivating as it opens with arpeggios played with harmonics. The beautiful melody and music that arises is a pure reflection of love and hopefulness; this composition was inspired by his son's birth. "Terruno," the album's title track, was inspired by Sinesi's beloved homeland Argentina. The chacera rhythm flows along as the simple melody expresses the sense of longing for a place far away.
"Alta Paz" is a personal favorite. It opens with a technique where Rojas brushes her index finger back and forth across the strings without really sounding them, creatiug a light and airy effect. The piece seems to incorporate a simple folk type melody and uses the huayno rhythm. It is a haunting piece that was inspired by the city of La Paz, Bolivia. Sinesi must have been greatly affected by this city in Bolivia which resides 4000 meters high. "Alta Paz" is an incredible piece of music which uses the guitar to its fullest extent. The extended techniques such as fanning the strings, the beautiful melody, and the way it ends with a bang of percussive tapping and a fury of syncopated rasgueado strums make it very attractive to the ear.
There are many great moments on Terruno; such as the two pieces by expert Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti, and the collection six of short pieces by Walter Heinze, that this CD is a must have for anyone who loves the sounds of South American guitar. Terruno contains some of the most exciting pieces recently written for solo guitar, and uses every aspect of the instrument. Rojas executes the fast scales and arpeggios, harmonics, rasgueados, and percussive tapping techniques with incredible precision, tone, and clarity. She performs this music as if she has always known it, with the deepest understanding and passion and her expert musicianship shine through this recording.