Cuarteto Latinoamericano

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an instinct that places them in the first division of string quartets. - The London Times
 

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Saúl Bitrán, violin

Arón Bitrán, violin

Alvaro Bitrán, cello

Javier Montiel, violin

Cuarteto Latinoamericano is one of the world’s most renowned classical music ensembles acclaimed for its performances of the standard string quartet repertoire, and for more than thirty years, the leading proponent of Latin American music for string quartet. Founded in Mexico in 1982, the Cuarteto has toured extensively throughout Europe, North and South America, Israel, China, Japan and New Zealand. They have premiered more than a hundred works written for them and continue to introduce new and neglected composers to the genre. The Cuarteto has won a Latin Grammy Award, were recognized with the Mexican Music Critics Association Award, and received the Chamber Music America/ASCAP’s Most Adventurous Programming Award three separate times.

The Cuarteto Latinoamericano members are the three Bitrán brothers, violinists Saul and Aron  and cellist Alvaro, with violist Javier Montiel. The Cuarteto has performed and recorded a discography of over 70 recordings, including most of the Latin American repertoire for string quartet. Volume 6 of their complete Villa-Lobos cycle of 17 quartets for Dorian received 2002 nominations for both a Grammy Award and a Latin Grammy for Best Chamber Music Recording. They won the 2012 Latin Grammy for Best Classical Recording for their CD Brasileiro: Works of Migone. Inca Dances by Gabriela Lena Frank, recorded by Cuarteto Latinoamericano and Manuel Barrueco, won the 2009 Latin Grammy for Best New Latin Composition.

The Cuarteto performs as soloist with important orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz, the Dallas Symphony, Ottawa’s National Arts Center Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, and the Símón Bolívar Orchestra of Venezuela. They will make their debut with the Miami Symphony in April 2016 with the premiere of a new work by Orlando Garcia. On tour the Cuarteto plays in the world’s most distinguished halls and festivals, including the Concertgebouw, La Scala, the Esterhazy Palace, the Kennedy Center, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Ojai Festival. 

The Cuarteto has collaborated with many celebrated artists over the years, including the cellists János Starker and Yehuda Hanani, pianists Itamar Golan, Cyprien Katsaris and Rudolph Buchbinder, tenor Ramón Vargas, clarinetist Paul Meyer, and guitarists Narciso Yepes, Sharon Isbin, David Tanenbaum and Manuel Barrueco, with whom they have performed extensively in some of the most important venues of the US and Europe, commissioned guitar quintets from American composers Miguel del Aguila, Michael Daugherty and Gabriela Lena Frank, and recorded two CDs.

Under the auspices of the Sistema Nacional de Orquestas Juveniles of Venezuela, the Cuarteto has created and heads the Latin American Academy for String Quartets in Caracas, a training ground for five select young string quartets from the Sistema. The Cuarteto visits the Academy four times a year. From 1987 - 2008 Cuarteto Latinoamericao was quartet-in-residence atCarnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Since 2004 the government has awarded them the México en Escena grant given through FONCA (National Fund for Culture and the Arts).

 

CUARTETO LATINOAMERICANO & THE PRESS ON RECORD

 

Ttetraktys represents the ten young Mexican composers featured. We are quickly swept into punchy groove-oriented sections with angular melodies. It is clear that the members of the quartet thoroughly enjoyed the demands each piece had to offer. This joy of the process can be heard in the bright, crisp and confident expressiveness the quartet offers in this recording.

- TheWholeNote - Feb 2015

 

In an extraordinary pair of recordings, Cuarteto Latinoamericano heads into its 35th year with music that probes different ends of the repertoire. Here is a wonderful abundance of seductive, long-limbed melodies developed amidst swirls of color and harmonic intimacies. The Cuarteto collaborated with Urtext to commission ten young composers. This CD is an awakening of the imagination, an invitation to plunge deep into an audible world, which takes us away from routine and brings us closer to reality. Throughout both discs Cuarteto plays with a precisely controlled spontaneity and a commitment to let the music speak. The immediate, detailed sound and handsome presentations are all that could be hoped for.

- Strings Magazine - June 2015



Energy and commitment in a collection of new Mexican string quartets

What emerges most strongly, both in the works and in the Quartet’s committed playing, is a joyful sense of rhythm. The disc offers a fascinating insight into new music from a seldom-sampled source. Juan Andres Vergara’s Adams-esque 3DOKU allows the quartet players to show off their remarkable range of tone, attack and phrasing – alongside their exciting rhythmic precision.  Miguel Rivera’s Jackson Pollock-insprired White Abstract was brought to urgent life in an energetic performance.  Sound is closely captured but balanced.

- The Strad

 

The minor-key dramatics are thrilling, as is the full-blooded, optimistic resolution. Cuarteto Latinoamericano gives us idiomatic, assured performances. Joyous and very decently recorded. Can we have a second volume please?

- The Arts Desk - March 21, 2015

 

The Cuarteto Latinoamericano dispatches these works with the technical finesse and musical imaginations listeners have come to expect from them.  This foray into the music of their Spanish cousins provides an ear-opening excursion. This vividly recorded release is a most welcome addition to the catalog, a charismatic, elegantly rendered interpretation of music that is hard to resist.

- Chamber Music Magazine – Spring 2015

 

Ruperto Chapi wrote magnificent string quartets, major works, full-length and ambitious. Cuarteto Latinoamericano smartly tempers its trademark sharp sonority in a manner consistent with the music’s elegance and warmth. They quite literally seethe with energy, but the players differentiate and characterize each section notably well. Superb engineering captures every inflection with natural fidelity. This is a great CD release.

- ClassicsToday – January 20, 2015

 

Ruperto Chapi’s music is a revelation: straightforwardly brilliant, compact and vividly conceived four-movement works that have a Spanish inflection and engage with an irresistible élan. The Cuarteto gives us sparkling renditions with a zest that leaves nothing to be desired. These are near-ideal performances. Brilliant! I look forward to more. This one is a stunner.

- ClassicalModernMusic - March 31, 2015

 

The Latinoamericano pays this program to perfection.  We owe the group so much for its tireless investigation of Latin repertoire, of which this disc is another shining example.  I would recommend it for those times when Bartok feels too aggressive or Shostakovich too melancholy.  In terms of melodic flow and expressivity, the quartet composer who comes to mind as a yardstick is Borodin. 

- FANFARE

CUARTETO LATINOAMERICANO & THE PRESS
 

The Cuarteto demonstrated a striking ability to hear the leading line, so that listening to Beethoven was like reading the score. The tone was subject to tremendous control and gradations, against which you could always hear the immaculate silvery threads of the first violin. The performance was an elegant, laid-back miracle, thoroughly worked out, often with a wonderful sense of formality. The sound in the large hall was ideal. The audience went wild. - The Huffington Post

 

Any quartet we're likely to hear will be hard pressed to equal, much less surpass, the playing of the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. - Los Angeles Times

 

A clean, tight ensemble with startling luxuriance of tone, and the delightful collective habit of playing cleanly on pitch. 

– Fanfare

 

The Cuarteto is matchless in tonal magnitude, tuneful fluency and concentrated teamwork.

- The Washington Post

 

One of the most satisfying performances of Schubert's music that I've heard. 

- Houston Weekly

 

 

The complete Villa Lobos cycle, performed for the first time in Mexico:
 Cuarteto Latinoamericano showed the sound universe of Villa-Lobos: all seventeen of his string quartets played in five concerts in three cities. The Cuarteto offered a clear interpretation, recognizing the intent and purpose behind each section. The sound grew and became monumental. Their mastery was expressed in the sonic dimension, supported by technical mastery. All performances were strong, skillful and human, and let out a feeling of satisfaction and joy. 

 - Bachtrack - May 23, 2015


The ardent playing drew enthusiastic response from the full house

- Dallas Morning News - Feb. 13, 2015

 

Debussy’s String Quartet received a memorable reading. Intonation was perfect, contrapuntal lines clearly played and the rhythmic drive contagious.

- Palm Beach Daily News, Feb. 6, 2014

 

Cuarteto Latinoamericano plays with a rapturous, honey-toned sound. They played Debussy’s String Quartet with a sound that I can only describe as that of burnished gold. The playing was immaculate

- Palm Beach Arts Paper – Feb. 10, 2014   

 

…. exceptional drive, control and finesse.

Cincinnati Enquirer

 

The Cuarteto Latinoamericano brought an eclectic selection to Wolf Trap, running the gamut from nostalgic salon music to edgy, 12-tone expressionism - but always with a distinctive Latin character. Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Four for Tango,’ arrived like a fresh wind, bitingly sharp and full of brilliant effects - whiplike upward slides, notes as rough as sandpaper - and the sophisticated raunchiness that makes tango what it is. Manuel Ponce’s ‘Estrellita,’ appeared in an arrangement for string quartet, along with the similarly lovely and charming ‘Gavota’. ‘Musica de Feria’ by Silvestre ‘Revueltas’ and the showstopping Cuarteto No. 2, Op. 26, of Alberto Ginastera captured the audience. The Silvestre was an extravagance of furious rhythms, folk songs and diabolical dances, vivid and full of life. Ginastera’s 1957 quartet was far more austere but no less powerful: a masterpiece of modernism, brilliantly played and a joy to hear.

- Washington Post

 

Spontaneous applause gushed to greet the beginning of their journey with the dreamy and moving Villa Lobos First Quartet, and a torrential rain of applause sprang from the audience after the bold roughness of Ginastera’s First Quartet concluded the program. The announcement of an encore brought cries of delight that carried to the last row in the Aula Magna of Verri. 

Il Cittandino – February 24, 2014

 

The musicians celebrated 30 years of music-making, work that has been captured in more than 70 recordings, innumerable concerts in Mexico and the world, national and international recognition and above all, the applause of their admirers. More quartets have been written for this group than in the history of Mexico from the nineteenth century.

- Milenio 

 
… a virtuosic performance. Their musicianship expels a radiance of technicality, impressive by quartet standards. Electrically fast arpeggios and modal technicality expelled a climax not to be outdone.

The Oswegonian 

 

Friends of Chamber Music's series has led audiences down interesting byways of chamber repertoire, the latest excursion Cuarteto Latinoamericano. The credentials of the performers were unimpeachable and the program refreshingly out of the mainstream - intriguing, thoroughly engaging. A tight and well-balanced ensemble, their range of mood and color exposed great variety in a handful of Latin American works from the past fifty years, with echoes of popular and folk music through the program. Javier Alvarez' quartet ‘Metro Chabacano,’ commissioned by the Mexico City subway system, echoed Steve Reich's ‘Different Trains’ in its propulsive, expressive use of fragmentary materials.. Reliably captivating, were works of Astor Piazzolla, including his ‘Libertango,’ lush, passionate and incisively played, a fulfillment both of Piazzolla's reinvention of the tango and of the potential of this ensemble. 

The Oregonian – March 1, 2011



Cuarteto Latinoamericano was in town to give a concert of Latin American music. The concert of delightful surprises opened with Quartet No. 2 by Francesco Mignone (1897-1986). Rapid changes in mood, thematic material and the tonal centre were expertly handled, showcasing the Cuarteto’s rock-solid technique, moving effortlessly from staccato to legato passages over the whole dynamic range. The final movement was called Desafio, which means literally: a challenge. With bows flying and flurries of notes being tossed off as if they were beginner exercises, the quartet brought Mignone’s piece to a thrilling close. Ginastera’s String Quartet No.2 was a fitting end to a well-thought-out program. The concert was a great reminder of what treasures await those willing to search them out. 

- Omniscient Mussel



The Cuarteto displayed an unforced old-school lyrical sensitivity, blending the class of the old world with the vigor of the new. This mixture of restrained elegance and streamlined modernity seems to be a hallmark of Latino high culture. Their performance reveled in a remarkable panache, which took the concert to a new level.  With these particular musicians, clapping between movements seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

- Connect Savannah

 

An exceptional group… clean playing, energy, and freshness.

- Le Monde de la Musique

 

Cuarteto Latinoamericano kept the audience's attention with technical mastery, clean sound and balanced interaction among themselves.

La Jornada Michoacan 

 

The Cuarteto sounds the depths of new music, Jazz, and concert music. These exceptional musicians span a feeling of emotion, whose syncopations, glissandi, staccati and percussionistic effects excite and move, putting the audience under a spell.

- Kleine Zeitung (Graz, Austria)