New Recordings Spotlight Classical Soul of Latin America

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Is the bleak of winter getting to you, even without snow? Cloudy days and cold weather are no match for new, vital performances of Latin American music. We're not the only ones who think so.

To keep your musical spirits up, we’ve compiled this list of five recently-released albums of Latin American classical works that are sure to transport you to a warmer, sunnier place. Click on the links to listen to samples from each.



Brasileiro Works of Francisco Mignone
Cuarteto Latinoamericano featuring La Catrina Quartet (Sono Luminus)
Available at

Mexican chamber ensembles Cuarteto Latinoamericano and La Catrina Quartet join forces to explore the works of little-known Brazilian composer Francisco Mignone (1897-1986). A contemporary of Heitor Villa-Lobos and the son of Italian immigrants, Mignone’s operas and string quartets contain a strong dose of Brazilian nationalism.

El Cigala & Tango

El Cigala (DG)
Available at Deutsche Grammophon

Spanish singer Diego Salazar, known as "El Cigala" (Spanish for "Norway Lobster," a shellfish popular in Spain) sings his way through composers of tango old and new in this 2010 collection, recorded live at the Teatro Gran Rex in Buenos Aires. Argentinean staple composers like Carlos Gardel, Atahualpa Yupanqui,\ and  Ariel Ramirez are featured alongside Kurt Weill. 

Evencio Castellanos

Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela led by Jan Wagner (Naxos)
Available at

Evencio Castellanos (1915-1984) is one of few representative Venezuelan composers of the 20th century. The three works on this disc are inspired by the landmarks, topography and history of Venezuela. Castellanos's Suite Avileña quotes Venezuelan popular song and Christmas carols with the essential folk instruments maracas and the cuatro (a four-stringed version of the European classical guitar).

Fiesta Criolla

Württemberg Philharmonie Reutlingen led by Gabriel Castagna (Chandos)
Available at

Gabriel Castagna is an Argentinean conductor and musicologist who compiled this collection of mostly 20th-century, nationalistic works. This album features zesty, colorful selections by Argentine composers Astor Piazzolla, Manuel Gómez Carrillo, Juan José Castro and Alberto Williams; Peruvian Theodoro Valcárcel Caballero; Colombian Guillermo Uribe Holguín and Brazilian Francisco Mignone.

Ernesto Cordero:
Caribbean Concertos for Guitar and Violin
Pepe Romero, Guilliermo Figueroa, and I Solisti di Zagreb (Naxos)
Available at

Puerto Rican composer and guitarist Ernesto Cordero (b. 1946) dedicated the Concierto Festivo to the Pepe Romero. Who better to perform it than the legendary guitarist himself? Concierto Festivo is one of three distinctly Caribbean string concertos in this collection which evoke the landscapes and ambiance of the composer’s homeland. The violin concerto ĺnsula is dedicated to Guillermo Figueroa, the violinist who also serves as music director of the New Mexico Symphony.