Tricky Cellos

Once again demonstrating that Latin-infusion is not limited to the popular realm, a new amalgamation of cellist tangueros is here to prove that Yo-Yo Ma isn't the only one who understands the appeal of going global. The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (affectionately dubbed "The 12") have been performing as a solo act since 1974, when they wowed their first crowd onstage at the Salzburg Mozarteum. Today the renowned 12 are admittedly a younger, hipper bunch that includes a snowboarding instructor, a gourmet chef and a devoted follower of feng shui.

South American Getaway is a pleasure to listen to. The collection features works by famed bandoneon master Astor Piazzolla and fusion king Heitor Villa-Lobos, all skillfully arranged to utilize the full range and power of the cello. Most impressive is the fact that the works maintain a feeling of individuality and never wear out their welcome — no small feat for a group of 12 cellos playing 13 tracks, with only a shaker and a soprano occasionally thrown into the mix.

Most enjoyable are the rhythmic and sophisticated Mas que Nada (RealAudio excerpt) by Jorge Ben, the moving three part Bachianas Brasileiras No.1 (RealAudio excerpt) by Villa-Lobos and the passionate and touching Adios Nonino (RealAudio excerpt) by Piazolla. Also of note are soprano Juliane Banse, who contributes to three songs on the disc, and the final work South American Getaway, written by none other than that master of wistful romance, Burt Bacharach.