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Chris Reubens: Fenestrae for four guitars

Updated: Apr 17

Chris Reubens

Les Productions D’Oz: Score and separate parts (12, 4 ,4 ,3 ,and 3 pages respectively )

This Belgian guitarist/composer wrote this piece for the Baltic Guitar Quartet, who recorded it, and also put a live performance on YouTube. The title refers to the windows of St.Casimir Church in Vilnius in Lithuania.

Set in the most unusual key of D#m (yet written with a key signature of 5 sharps to avoid any awkwardness) this piece opens with a very ecclesiastical melody on guitar 1 , that is hauntingly sad against long held, and in some cases , strummed chords from the other three. Written in a mixture of 5/4, 6/4 and 4/4 this slow introduction becomes more complex little by little as the separate guitars start to get their own personality. So it isn’t long before each guitar is playing an almost completely different line, with its own, often complex rhythms that on first glance, struggle to go together. Therefore one does find quintuplets, sextuplets, septuplets, occasionally sub-divided up in their own groups, thus creating, in one such example, a quintuplet of quavers, where the note values are a crotchet, and six semi- quavers! And this often occurs when the other guitars are producing their own different rhythms at the same time. This makes the page look extremely complex and so the players have to really have an extremely good feel for the beat, as nothing you are hearing from the others is helping you at all. The most unexpected occurrence however arrives at the coda, where the guitars die away, and the score then instructs the players to hum. Indeed then, the final page of the score has no guitars at all, and the players have to harmonise the main melody you have been hearing from the start with mostly vowels, and which now, sounds ultimately very church – like in its effect. The last harmonised chord dies away on a final ‘aaah’, creating a most unexpected finish to what is a very complex piece of music that requires a huge amount of attention to make it playable.

The quartet would have to be very good players indeed, but this exotic piece does indeed grab the listener, not just for its mid – blowing final 30 seconds!

Chris Dumigan

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