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  • chrisdumigan

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet : LAGQ Latin : CD

STING: Fragile: EDUARDO MARTIN: Hasta Alicia Baila (Even Alicia Dances); La Trampa (The Trap):A.PIAZZOLLA: Fuga Y Misterio: EGBERTO GISMONTI: Forrobodo: LEO BROUWER: Cuban Landscape with Rain: AARON COPLAND: Paisaje Mexicano; Danza de Jalisco: TRADITIONAL: Sevillanas: ANDREW YORK: Syzygy: GEORGES BIZET: Carmen Suite (Aragonaise; Habanera; Seguidilla; Toreadors; Entr’acte; Gypsy Dance): JOAQUIN RODRIGO: En Aranjuez Con tu Amor:

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (Andrew York, John Dearman, Scott Tennant, William Kanengiser) – James Walker (Flute) on Syzygy.

Telarc; CD 80593)

Formed an astonishing 42 years ago , and having produced 1t least 15 albums of very varied repertoire over the years it is no surprise that they are one of the most well – known and well- loved classical guitar quartets.

Immediately the vibrancy and sheer quality of the playing and the production is what hits you. The opening Fragile by Sting has this wonderful arrangement where one guitar is playing a repeated bass, another is playing a haunting arpeggio effect, whilst the other two are harmonizing with the melody, complete with note bends, which is such a clever beginning to what is a magical album full of moments like this. I had to smile at the fabulous’ olde worlde’ fade out at the end like our old 45s used to do back in the 60s! The 1st Eduardo Martin track, Hasta Alicia Baila begins with several subtle percussion parts on the guitars whilst the lead guitar plays the haunting melody, another lovely track, utterly different from the first. Again the arrangement is so imaginative and the actual playing truly phenomenal throughout. With Astor Piazzolla you know the sort of sound you are going to get and the Fuga y Misterioso really does manage to sound like Piazzolla writing a Fuga whilst retaining his very individual sound world – a clever piece. Leo Brouwer’s Cuban Landscape with Rain has so many different rain effects and sounds throughout it, that it could almost be an actual picture. Again, this is beautiful music, so imaginative and exceptionally played, and as the rain gets heavier, the way the guitar parts interact is nothing short of magical, a wonderful effect. The second work by Eduardo Martin, La Trampa is very fast, and shows off just how good the players’ techniques are. The two works by Aaron Copland are haunting and utterly guitaristic, which, considering the Paisaje Mexicana was written for orchestra in 1965 as No2 from a set called Three Latin American Pieces, and Danza de Jalisco was No3 in the same set, one can see that they definitely aren’t original guitar works. They sound it though! After some very typical flamenco music in the form of the Sevillanas, comes Andrew York’s Syzygy with some lovely flute work by guest player James Walker.

The six pieces from the Carmen Suite of Bizet were compiled from the two Orchestral Suites of 12 pieces after Bizet’s death by his friend Ernest Guiraud. Here they have been adapted for the Quartet by their member William Kanengiser, and of course as one might expect this lovely set of very Spanish sounding melodies work wonderfully well for 4 guitars, and again the vibrancy of the playing and the technical brilliance of the entire experience is second to none and I love the touch of putting some fingernail percussion in various parts of the Aragonaise, very clever! These are of course all pieces that you instantly recognize, but it’s a close run thing whether I prefer the orchestral originals or these superb arrangements for four guitars, for it’s a close run thing! In some ways they sound as if they were written for guitars!

The final work, an adaptation by Andrew York of the main theme from the slow movement of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is almost a complete re- writing , and he does not try to attempt to slim the orchestral accompaniment down at all, but completely changes it, which does make an entirely different piece f it, but a fascinating version nevertheless, and it makes for an unusual but delightful close to this album, which has to be one of the best , if not THE best quartet album I have ever heard. It is nothing short of wonderful from start to finish!

Chris Dumigan

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