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Many Pleasures

Music for
guitar quartet,
recommended by

OIDI    OIDI 0801

Guitalian Quartet Live. © 2008 OIDI Records

This is a release of many pleasures. The virtuoso guitarists who comprise the quartet have significant solo careers-emphasizing composers such as the profound Bach and devilish Paganini. But in this format, they are only out to entertain listeners and enjoy each other's playing. Take this witty excerpt from a piece I wouldn't have guessed would work in an arrangement for guitars.

Listen -- Rossini: Overture to The Barber of Seville
(track 1, 4:03-5:00) © 2008 OIDI Records

If they can do that with Rossini, the Spanish rhythms of Carmen should be child's play. And they are.

Listen -- Bizet: Aragonaise (Carmen Suite)
(track 4, 0:00-1:11) © 2008 OIDI Records

Not that it's all for fun. Although Four Seasons is one of his gentler works, Piazzolla is more often savage than playful.

Listen -- Piazzolla: Spring in Buenos Aires (Four Seasons)
(track 11, 4:07-5:25) © 2008 OIDI Records

After the most familiar pieces, there are more adventurous contributions from the contemporary composers Leo Brouwer and Edoardo Martin. Brouwer, who has written, at last count, eleven fine, rather conservative concertos for guitar, has the most tonally ambiguous offering here, though this marvelous evocation of rain is far from abstract.

Listen -- Brouwer: Cuban Landscape with Rain
(track 12, 4:46-6:26) © 2008 OIDI Records

Martin, born in 1956, is the youngest of the composers represented. Both his pieces were written for four guitars (as was Brouwer's). They are firmly in the familiar style of Spanish guitar.

Listen -- Martin: Acrylic in Space
(track 13, 5:33-6:30) © 2008 OIDI Records

The program then is a mix of clever and effective arrangements finished off with newer works that take idiomatic advantage of the sounds of acoustic guitars. Note that this is a live program. The audience is so quietly attentive that I didn't notice it until the applause at the end of the first piece. But I've always preferred deletion of distracting applause from a live recording when possible, as it would have been here. With that minor quibble, this is an entertaining and recommended release.

Copyright © 30 December 2008 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA




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