CD Review - Under the Lemon Tree - Maria Zemantauski
By Glenn Weiser
Metroland, October 26, 2006

Sensuous Sensibility 
By Glenn Weiser
Maria Zemantauski-Under the Lemon Tree 
(Futon Dog Music)

Gypsies of Spain’s Andalusia province first spread the florid songs, dances, and improvised guitar accompaniment of flamenco throughout the rest of the country. And since it became the rage of Spanish coffeehouses in the mid-19th century, flamenco itself has also traveled a stylistic route leading from traditional forms to a freer, more open style known as nuevo (new) flamenco, and influenced both classical music and jazz along the way.

Maria Zemantauski’s fine new CD, Under the Lemon Tree, spans the spectrum of flamenco guitar’s evolution. The 11 tracks here include a pair of celebrated Spanish works, a hymn arrangement, and eight of her own captivating compositions. These last range from classic flamenco to more nuevo-sounding pieces flecked with borrowings from jazz, Celtic, and Appalachian string-band music. Guesting on the disc are Tony Dumas on cajon, Angelina Glashenkova-Reed on domra, and Martha Gallagher on Celtic harp.

The first track, “Rumores de la Caleta,” is Zemantauski’s showpiece arrangement of a 1887 piano piece by Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz, and, with its stentorian strumming, rapid-fire bass runs, and dreamy interludes, should convince you she is an outstanding guitarist. Other highlights include “River Street,” which starts off as a reflective air and then lunges into a blazing impression a Southern fiddle breakdown. “Chanteuse” is a duet with Celtic harp in which the two instruments blend seamlessly, recalling in places the minimalism of Terry Riley. More traditional are the solos “Sundina’s Dance,” an alegrias, and the title track, a rumba. In “Recuerdos de la Alhambra,” Zemantauski breaks up Francisco Tarrega’s famous tremolo study for solo guitar into a serene duet with the domra, a Russian mandolin-like instrument. A heartfelt arrangement of “Amazing Grace” concludes the record.

I only wish Zemantauski had included liner notes for the pieces, but that is a mere quibble. Put your inquiring mind on hold and let your ears drink in her rich, sensuous music.

List of Metroland Stories by Glenn Weiser                          ©2006 by Glenn Weiser. All rights reserved. 


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