Classical guitarist Berta Rojas is more than just another renowned concert artist; she is the international cultural ambassador of her homeland, Paraguay. As such, she´s long been on a one woman crusade to make better known the under appreciated classical music of this small South American nation. On Día y medio (OnMusic Recordings), a program of 12 duets with Cuban clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D´Rivera, Rojas focuses on the compositions of Agustín Barrios and other 20th century Paraguayan composers whose work is largely unknown and begs more attention.
Asuncion´s authoritative daily La Nación captured the session´s special appeal when it proclaimed that the two instrumentalists intertwine "with sensitivity and passion." Some works, such as Demetrio Ortiz´s winsome "Recuerdos de Ypacaraí," saunter gently while others, thanks to the incorporation of rhythms created by the indigenous Guaraní people, boast a more robust character and complex structure. Día y medio is much more than just a celebration of virtuosity for its own sake; its entrancing performances are alive with the spirit of a distant land that has spawned a profusion of elegant and intriguing music.