Flamenco Dreams

Benedetti & Svoboda

Domo Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Whenever I'm stressed out from the day-to-day grind of life, there's nothing more soothing to me than listening to some gentle, acoustic music to calm my frazzled nerves. I've heard some incredible music in this category over the last few months, all of which has surely kept me from punching out a wall on occasion. (From what I understand, the wall always wins. Ask Tom Petty.)

The classical guitar duo of Fred Benedetti and George Svoboda have taken Spanish-influenced songs and raised them to a similar art form, as evidenced by their recent release Flamenco Dreamsmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 . While I would question if all the music contained herein is true flamenco music, it does contain some amazing guitar work from these two.

One thing about this disc that is a bit discouraging is that I can't find any credit for the backing musicians. Unless Benedetti and Svoboda overdubbed some of the rhythm tracks, it would have been nice to give credit where credit is due. Still, the main focus is on the guitar playing, and what a wonderful playing it is.

Songs like "Mallorca Sunset" and "Moresca" almost make it feel like you're looking out of a hotel window in Spain, watching the daily life below you unfold. The energy level in the playing of Benedetti and Svoboda, on "Mallorca Sunset" going from sleepily calm to a high-energy dance-like rhythm, captures the mood of the moment and the music in a way that mere words can't accurately describe.

However, Flamenco Dreams does feature more styles of music than just Latin-flavored. "Romanza amor" is a gentle ballad that almost sounds like something that could have come off a new age album in America. The light touch of the lead guitar on this one adds just the right voice to the track, speaking a language that a human voice could never have captured. Likewise, "Duende" almost sounds like something Segovia could have fiddled with, as you hear the rolling guitar lines near the middle. (These aren't quite as fluid as I might have liked them to be, but seeing I can't do any better, I have no reason to grouse.)

Flamenco Dreams has only one major obstacle to overcome - a slow start. The opening tracks "Isla Mar" and "Ritmos de Valarta" don't capture the moment the way that one would have hoped, and they tend to impede my enjoyment of the disc overall. Fortunately, Benedetti and Svoboda are able to step over this one small landmine and almost make you forget about it.

Anyone who likes good acoustic guitar work will undoubtedly find much to like about Flamenco Dreams. Although I still prefer Reflections, another album out of the Domo stable, this disc will do in a pinch when I need a musical stress reliever.

Rating: B+

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Domo Records, and is used for informational purposes only.