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CD Feature/ Luis Orias Diz: "Acrílicos en la Sonrisa" & "Kammermusik"

img  Tobias
It is a sign of this era that everybody is supposed to be everything all of the time. Musicians, especially, are asked to be performers, studio artists, recording engineers, bloggers, sales strategists and public relations agents alike. No wonder, then, that some either give up and turn reclusive or award more importance to marketing than to music. Luis Orias Diz, however, has seemingly never found it hard balancing these different duties.

Instead, his work has been marked by steady progress and astounding self-confidence in his own ability to establish a career on an instrument often considered one of the musical world’s eternal niches: The Classical Guitar. Diz has countered this sombre outlook by organically navigating between classical and contemporary repertoire and by falling back upon a circle of equally dedicated friends. Immediate and personal contacts, both with other performers and composers, are vital to his oeuvre.

A perfect example for this approach can be found on his second album “Acrílicos en la Sonrisa”. Essentally a collaboration, the album comprises of three scenic works by Cuban Eduardo Martin, who also contributes some fingerpicking. Accessible and disarmingly romantic, the segments of these intensely and intently intimate cycles of interrelated miniatures blossom for a mere minute or two, before dying down into silence again. Martin draws from poetry, dreams and the little dramas and delights of every-day life to arrive at short songs about love, hope, despair, longing and loss.

His harmonic and melodic language is starry-eyed and warm, never too complex to make sense on an intuitive level, yet always clever enough to keep its audience hooked for the program’s entire duration. Simple rhythms develop a spikey groove, straight forward progressions take surprising twists and thematic patterns are microscopically varied, instead of being mechanically repeated. Listening to this is like gazing into a caleidoscope backlit by a full moon. Diz is much more than a mere translator here. “In his master hands, music speaks”, Martin puts his admiration into words in the booklet and it is true that these small gestures and gentle configurations combine into a statement much larger than the sum of its individual components.

On his latest effort “Kammermusik”, meanwhile, he takes these factors a step further. If “Acrílicos en la Sonrisa” still catered to the typical demands for a classical acoustic Guitar record, this album presents Diz as a man with a vision. A self-described labour of love, it was recorded with a huge cast of befriended and respected colleagues and incorporates the entire scope of his interests and talents: Pastoral transcriptions of Hans Werner Henze’s opera “Pollicino” take turns with a quiet rendition of Toru Takemitsu’s ethereal “Toward the Sea” (featuring Sergio Catalan’s otherworldly flute breaths) and an intricately realised version of Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music” precedes Luciano Berio’s magnetic cycle “Folk Songs para mezzosoprano y siete instrumentos”, originally written for Cathy Berberian and congenially interpreted by Cecilia Pastorino here.

Diz takes on the duties of soloist, team player, accompanyist, and sound sculptor on this occasion. Even more importantly, he acts as a curator whose ideal of success does not lie in outshining others but in connecting different performers and pieces into a coherent and charismatic new listening experience. “Kammermusik” offers an introvert and silent, yet electrifying perspective on what a Classical Guitar album can sound like in the 21st century. It is a logical and persuasive statement by a man who has managed to take on and muster the challenges facing a contemporary musician these days while still firmly putting music first.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Luis Orias Diz
Homepage: Pai Records

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