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Winter Rose

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Album Review

In Spain, flamenco's purist hardliners view Ottmar Liebert the same way they view the Gipsy Kings: as a pop culture bastardization of the real thing — the real thing being traditionalists like Paco de Lucía and Tomatito. But that's a narrow-minded and foolish way of looking at it, because Liebert never claimed to be a flamenco traditionalist. The guitar-playing instrumentalist has been bringing a wide variety of influences to the table — influences that continue to serve him well on Winter Rose. Recorded from 2003-2005, Winter Rose is Liebert's third Christmas-influenced project; the two previous ones were 1990's Poets & Angels and 2000's Christmas + Santa Fe. But saying that Winter Rose is Christmas-influenced — at least some of the time — isn't saying that it is strictly a Christmas album. Liebert puts his spin on a few traditional Christmas songs, including "Away in a Manger" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem." But truth be told, much of Winter Rose is not overtly Christmas-themed — and the disc's other highlights range from several Liebert originals to a tasteful arrangement of Tchaikovsky's "Le Café." The word "tasteful" comes to mind throughout Winter Rose; sure, Liebert can be slick and glossy, but he's tastefully slick and glossy — tasteful as a guitarist, tasteful as an arranger, tasteful in his ability to combine flamenco elements with everything from European classical to new age, folk, and pop-jazz. This CD is not among Liebert's essential releases, but it is nonetheless a pleasing, worthwhile addition to his catalog — and while Winter Rose isn't a Christmas album through and through, it is still nice to see Liebert revisiting the Christmas theme on some of the tracks.


Born: 1963 in Cologne, Germany

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Ottmar Liebert has said that "flamenco is a music both romantic and dangerous; it is an attitude as much as it is a musical genre." Therein lies the philosophy that catapulted him to fame at the end of the '80s with an engaging mix of subdued flamenco guitar and South American percussion, rock, jazz, and pop influences. Liebert's "attitude" actually suppresses the more challenging and "dangerous" aspects of flamenco in favor of the romantic -- and the stylish. He's not a technical wizard on the guitar,...
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Winter Rose, Ottmar Liebert
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