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Chris Ruebens : Jolie Folie for four guitars : DOz

Chris Ruebens

Les Productions D’Oz: Score and separate parts (16, 7, 7, 4, and 4 pages respectively)

This quartet by Belgian guitarist/composer Chris Reubens has some unusual and quite different characteristics that set it apart from other pieces, as explained in the book’s Preface.

It begins as an Allegro of 132 minims a minute , which is a considerable speed, and where guitars 1 and 2 play a flowing melody accompanied by a bass/chord alternating idea on guitar 3 and some repeated octave Cs , on guitar 4, with a number of them to be dampened every so often. The musical style, as per the preface is a mixture of Balkan rhythms and even a touch of Django Gypsy Jazz in the harmonies. It is instantly obvious that this piece is for talented players only. The parts swap players quite considerably so that everyone gets a go at playing the melody and the harmonies.

The fun and games start at letter C, bar 53, and again, to quote the Preface, the performers are asked to act a theatrical joke in which one of the players gets too carried away by his own playing. So their music are acting as if they are improvising creating polyphonic music with occasional dissonances thrown in. Around bar 78, guitar 1 starts forgetting about the other , thus playing as if he were a soloist, wherein guitars 3, and 4 , upset at this stop playing, showing disapproval and shaking their heads. Then guitar 2 stops, and all three silently make fun of guitar 1, who eventually catches on , stops, and at bar 106 invites guitar 2 to join him again, after which the others join too, and the piece carries on as a quartet.

This whole section is fascinating to see on the score, especially when guitar 1 has to play notes way beyond the normal 19th fret top B, achieved by placing your left hand nail on the string and , basically hoping for the best! When the piece carries on at letter D, the music is very animated , and suitably uproarious, going through a number of musical sections as it progresses, eventually reaching the final letter I where a Vivace version of the opening theme, takes the piece to a slam – bang finish.

This would be lots of fun in concert, especially when acted out as the composer wants them to, and as such a very able quartet could make this work really well in concert!

Chris Dumigan

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