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  • chrisdumigan

Aquarelle Guitar Quartet : Voyage : CD

BELLINATI: Baiao de Gude: RAVEL: Piece En Forme De Habanera: BRAHMS: Hungarian Dance No5: VILLA – LOBOS: Aria From "Bachianas Brasileiras' No. 5: PAGANINI: Cantabile Op17: POULENC: Tres Mouvements Perpetuels: RACHMANINOFF: Vocalise Op34 No14: IBERT: Entr’acte: DONIZETTI: Una Furtiva Lagrima: SHOSTAKOVICH: Waltz From ‘The First Echelon’, Op. 99 : FAURE : Pavane Op50:PIAZZOLLA: Histoire Du Tango:

AQUARELLE GUITAR QUARTET: (with Lisa Friend (Flute) and Craig Ogden (Guitar)

Chandos : CHAN 20037

The first thing you notice here is how varied the recital actually is, and then when you start to play it you realise just what an important part Lisa Friend and Craig Ogden play in the actual pieces.

Paulo Bellinati is a serious composer, whose language is a little unusual but still friendly, and quite enjoyable .The flute part leads the piece, although the middle section is just the guitars, with the flute re-entering in the final section. A good start!

Ravel’s famous Piece En Forme de Habanera has here been arranged from the Piano and Voice version of the original. Again the flute takes the opening melody. Ravel’s music always sounds captivating no matter which piece you pick (yes, I am a bit biased about that!) and this new version sounds utterly natural as if it was written for this line – up.

Then the Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No5, one of his most well – known pieces takes the speed factor up several notches, and indeed the playing is brilliant and sounding effortless, which is certainly isn’t

Heitor Villa – Lobos is of course one of the guitar’s compositional kings. Nearly every classical guitarist has surely tried some of his works out and marveled at them. This arrangement comes from a voice and guitar version by the composer, with the flute taking the voice part over, and works beautifully.

Paganini was known as a violinist, but also a guitarist, with this piece originally written for both of his instruments, violin and guitar. A lovely melodic work, the flute again takes centre stage with the melody, and makes it all sound effortlessly beautiful.

Poulenc’s music often has a delightfully unexpected harmonic quality, where the melody suddenly veers off unexpectedly. This little three movement work is no exception, with the opening Tres Modere having one of those moments that always brings a smile to my face, because it basically just sounds wrong, in the nicest possible way, when at first the melody and guitar accompaniment are going nicely together until the next time the melody crops up, it has dropped a number of keys, but the guitar doesn’t so it sounds at first as if one of them, has played it wrong. But this is definitely not the case; it is just Francis Poulenc’s compositional style. He has used this sort of effect in many other of his pieces to equally great effect. Lots of fun, and beautifully played too

Rachmaninoff’s famous Vocalise is a different style entirely from the Poulenc, very emotive, with lovely harmonies and a stunning melody, in the way that only Rachmaninoff can write.

Then we go back to France for Ibert’s famous Entr’acte. Exciting and with a stunning melody this lovely work again shows how wonderful some of the French composers’, music was, always exciting , utterly different from any other country’s music and very little of it second – rate, no matter which composer you are talking about. There are some really fast and furiously difficult Flute passages here that Lisa Friend takes utterly in her stride. Beautiful!

Donizetti’s Una Furtiva Lagrima is slow, with some gorgeous harmonies and a memorable melody that many will know even if they don’t know whose piece it is.

Shostakovich’s piece is interesting because I know it well as the Waltz No2, from the Jazz Suite No2, which it is the 6th movement of. Here it has a different title, but it’s the same piece. It is loads of fun, with some fabulous tunes and harmonies and it again translates from the full orchestra to our players without any problem, and sounds great.

Faure’s Pavane is another effortlessly beautiful piece of French music and definitely one of the best pieces on the CD.

The album finishes with the four movements of Astor Piazzolla’s wonderful Histoire du Tango, which has had many different arrangements over the years but this imaginative and beautiful music always sounds quite special ( as long as the players are up to it , of course, which they most definitely are here !)

So, to conclude, this is one of my most favourite CDs I have reviewed this year. There is not a bad track on it, the players are stunningly good, the recording is clear and natural, and I can only say that this CD should be one you go out hunting for !

Chris Dumigan

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