Quartetto Gelato's New CD a Heady Mix of Styles, Sounds

Musica Latina, Quartetto Gelato with the Penderecki String Quartet (Linus)


Quartets come in many shapes, sizes and combinations. Quartetto Gelato—Peter De Sotto, tenor and violin; Carina Reeves, cello; Kornel Wolak, clarinet; Alexander Sevastian, bandoneon and accordion)—is one of the most unusual, both in its multitalented, multinational personnel and its wide-ranging repertoire, much of it arranged by the members themselves. The Toronto-based group has forged close ties with the city’s Latin community, and this recording salutes the music of Latin America. Inviting a Polish string quartet to participate in such a program is in character with the Gelato’s international and artistic inclusiveness.

The music is a heady mix of styles, idioms, and vocal and instrumental sounds. Mood and character range from languid, yearning, sentimental songs and ballads to lively, syncopated, rousing dances. Everyone gets a place in the limelight, and the playing and singing are terrific. The instrumentalists are consummate virtuosos. Their command of intricate idiomatic rhythms is uncanny, their solos are dazzling, and they can blend into any combination. The tenor, who is also a first-class violinist, is equally at home in luscious bel canto, jazzy crooning, and lusty belting. Best of all, the musicians communicate a sense of spontaneous, uninhibited enjoyment that is infectious and irresistible.

A word of warning about the booklet: striking and elegant, designed in glossy colors and full of eye-catching photographs, the program is printed in a color almost indistinguishable from that of the background and in type so small that it requires a magnifying glass to read it. It would also be nice to have some information about the players. After all, Quartetto Gelato, though famous, is perhaps not equally well known to everybody.

*This article appeared in Strings July 2009
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