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Montreal Guitar Trio, Danzas

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Robert Rowat

For its seventh album, the Montreal Guitar Trio (MG3) returns to its roots.

On Danzas, due out Feb. 3 on the Analekta Records label, the members of MG3 explore the classical Spanish music that preoccupied their formative student years nearly 20 years ago. "It reminds me of my days at Université de Montréal — 80 to 90 per cent of the music we played was Spanish," recalls MG3 member Glenn Lévesque in the liner notes. "It's like reviving a great friendship."

While you can always rely on MG3 to play with total commitment, it's the members' amazing arrangements that set their albums apart, and Danzas is no exception. Look no further than Lévesque's take on three of Manuel de Falla's popular Spanish folk songs — "Nana," "Polo" and "Asturiana" — which are enhanced with a good dose of flamenco. So are Sébastien Dufour's arrangements of selections from de Falla's best-known stage works: the ballets El amor brujo and La vida breve and the opera El sombrero de tres picos. The latter brings out all the drama of the farruca, a traditional Spanish dance.

"We gave a flamenco flavour to all the pieces," Dufour told Le Devoir. "That's why we included pieces by Paco de Lucia, which go so well with those by de Falla." De Lucia's classic, "Cancion de amor," is a highlight of the album.

Rounding out the program is La Catedral, a three-movement suite by Agustin Barrios Mangoré, who was inspired by the organ music of J.S. Bach flowing from the Montevideo Cathedral in Uruguay. If you're familiar with the solo guitar original (and even if you're not), Dufour's arrangement and MG3's performance will blow you away.

"Our Spanish Love Song," from Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden's 1997 classic, Beyond the Missouri Sky, serves as a fitting encore.

Danzas will be released on Feb. 3. Pre-order the album here.

Watch this making-of video (in French):


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