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Gene Bertoncini: Concerti (2008)

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Gene Bertoncini: Concerti How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

At 70, guitarist Gene Bertoncini continues to make standards and classics breathe and shimmer, inviting listeners to experience them in new ways. On Concerti, his considerable skill at navigating a nylon-stringed guitar are complemented by a group of highly capable string players and clever arrangements, all crucial to this winning endeavor. Engineer Mark Conese deserves mention for the excellent sound quality of this recording, which he co-produced.

Allying with strings is more than a gimmick or a marriage of convenience; it's a wedding of varied talents that promotes long-running pleasure over repeated listening. Mark Feldman on first violin underscores Bertoncini with prodigious technical precision, finesse and grace. The rest of this distinguished string quartet—second violinist Rob Moose, Kelly Dylia on viola and Dana Leong on cello—help capture the nuances of unusual arrangements of such standards as "East of the Sun," Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" and "Every Time We Say Goodbye" as well as classics like the Frederic Chopin/Antonio Carlos Jobim renditions of "Prelude (excerpt-Op. 28, No. 4)/How Insensitive" and Joaquín Rodrigo/Chick Corea's "Concerto de Aranjuez (adagio)/Spain." A fabulous and atmospheric "Eleanor Rigby," pulled from the pages of the Lennon/McCartney songbook which includes successful improvisation from all parties, rounds out the bill, along with a Bertoncini original called "For Chet," both arranged by Michael Patterson, who also conducted.

All of these distinctive arrangements, except for "Invitation," done by Joseph Gianono, were written by Bertoncini colleagues from the Eastman School of Music—Fred Sturm, Dave Rivello, Brian Gabor and Patterson. Bassist David Finck contributes greatly to the proceedings as special guest, with lovely solos and support, while Bertoncini provides solid solo guitar arrangements on which he soars throughout.

Track Listing:

East of the Sun; You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To; For Chet; Eleanor Rigby; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Prelude (excerpt-Opus 28#4)/How Insensitive; Invitation; Concerto de Aranjuez (adagio)/Spain.

Personnel: Gene Bertoncini: guitar; Mark Feldman: first violin; Rob Moose: second violin; Kelly Dylia; viola; Dana Leong: cello; David Frinck; bass; Michael Patterson: conductor.

Record Label: Ambient Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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