The Uruguayan-born Boston pianist and composer Nando Michelin has based his latest CD on texts by the poet Juana Fernández Morales de Ibarbourou (1892-1979), also known as Juana de América. The album features a string quartet in addition to singer Katie Viqueira and Michelin’s trio, with his son Tiago on drums and bassist Robert Taylor. But this is not a typical “with strings” production, where the strings add only harmonic sweetener. Rather, Michelin has incorporated the Four Corners String Quartet with intricate counterpoint and incisive solo passages. The musical ambition is evident from the first track, “Las lunas de mi infancia,” where the bright nursery-rhyme-like folk melody diverges into ambiguous harmonies — the shadows crossing the face of those beautiful full moons of childhood. The album unfolds without pause through its 18 tracks, carried along on a blend of folkloric rhythms, tuneful melodies, and exploratory improvisations. Viquiera has a bright soprano, but she darkens along with the music and subject matter — lost love, drug addiction, death. Michelin has paid tribute to his countrywoman with an exemplary blend of folk, classical, and jazz.
Essential “Implacable”Jon Garelick can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jgarelick.