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Konstantin Bliokh : Khorovod for 4 guitars : DOz

Konstantin Bliokh

Les Productions D’Oz: Score and separate parts : (16, 6,6, 6 and 5 pages respectively)

Khorovod has had a complex life so far. Originally a suite for guitar and string quartet in seven movements, which is due to be published separately, it was then made into a 5- movement quartet for guitars after Bliokh became associated with the Kharkiv Guitar Quartet. It is this version that I am reviewing now, and which is available to see and hear on YouTube, played by the quartet, (Although there they spell their name as Kharkov, not Kharkiv)

Khorovod itself is a Slavonic art form, a combination of slow dance and chorus singing. Here the five movement work begins with a mysterious Largo that is titled Morning. Only a short 18 bars it has a lot of harmonics on the first two guitars, together with a long strummed chord played with the fingertips, not the nails on guitar 4.In between guitar 3 has a short pizzicato line, and everything is very atmospheric .Troika, the 2nd movement is a complete contrast where strums, and a great deal of rhythmic movement really create an upbeat feel, especially when the rhythms played are so off – beat, as they are in many places here. The middle movement Song, is an Andantino that begins on guitar 1 playing a solo lined melody at the end of which phrase the others gradually enter and the speed picks up, especially in the middle section where an Allegretto Deciso takes over and guitars 1 and 2 harmonise on a bouncy theme, whilst guitar 3 plays a bunch of bare fifths and octaves sul ponticello, and guitar 4 plays a bass line strumming as if with a plectrum. Wind, the fourth movement is even faster, and consists of energetic semi – quaver runs intermingled with plenty of rhythmic ideas with the other players. There are moments when some of the harmonies are a little acidic, but that only adds to the atmosphere of the music. Finally the title track Khorovod enters as the last movement, mirroring in many respects the opening movement and leaving a lasting impression with its haunting nature and expressive harmonies.

This is a lovely piece of writing that does require decent players, but that said, anyone with the necessary technique will get lots of fun from this fine and very musical work.

Chris Dumigan

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