Saturday, March 23, 2013

Peter Ostroushko. The Mando Chronicles. Red House 3 CD Set RHR 253 (2013)

Few instruments are as capable of evoking melancholy or joy as the mandolin family of stringed instuments. In this remarkable compendium, stringed instrument virtuoso Peter Ostroushko takes listeners on a global and historical musical journey that shows the myriad genres of instrumental music in which the mandolin and its relatives have played a key role. The first disc of the set focuses on American music, ranging from traditional fiddle tunes through old time and bluegrass music into ragtime, big band jazz and even march music. The second disc provides a tour through Europe with dance and fiddle tunes from the Ukraine, Sweden, France, Italy, and Ireland. On the third disc, Ostroushko tackles pieces written with mandolin parts by Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Bach as well as some Brazilian choros and a Puerto Rican waltz. To execute this varied tapestry of music, Ostroushko enlisted an impressive cast of collaborators, including old time scholars Norman and Nancy Blake, guitarist (and long time Ostroushko collaborator) Dean McGraw, pianist Butch Thompson, western swing veterans Johnny and Dick Gimble, a string quartet on the classical pieces, and Irish guitarist Daithi Sproule as well as many others. On several tracks, including Scott Joplin’s “Heliotrope Bouquet, Ostrouschko’s mandolin is augmented by his own overdubbed mandocello and mandola. It is a testament to Ostrouschko’s versatility as a musician and skills as an arranger that this polyglot of musical performances and styles, including several original compositions, holds together seamlessly as a sometimes lively, sometimes plaintive, but always engaging instrumental tapestry. 

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