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Notes and Editorial Reviews
We need more guitar recordings like we need bedbugs, but original works for guitar quartet are another story. Taken by itself, a guitar quartet is rather silly, a festival of squeaks, plinks, and plucks, but pitted against an orchestra, the results can be timbrally marvelous. Rodrigo’s concerto is well known, and marvelously played by the LAGQ, as you might expect, but the real novelty here is Sergio Assad’s five-movement suite Interchange, which is one of those “tonal travelogue” sorts of pieces, with titles like “Sephardic Passage”, “Gypsy Slopes” (sound clip), and “Pacific Overlook”. It’s surprisingly substantial, with a couple of extended movements that reveal the composer as remarkably comfortable creating successful longer forms.
Better still, the music is aptly tuneful, colorful, and splendidly written for the ensemble. No complaints whatsoever, then, about the performances or the sound. This may be the only guitar quartet CD you’ll ever need, or want.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
RODRIGO Concierto Andaluz. S. ASSAD Interchange • Los Angeles Gtr Qrt; David Amado (cond); Delaware SO • TELARC 31754-02 (54:49)
This is a disc to file under P for Pure Enjoyment. In a nutshell, it consists of two delightful concertos, music by no means simple or simplistic, given stellar performances and crystal-clear sound.
The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet has been performing for around 25 years (with only one change of personnel) and has made its most recent discs for Telarc. One of the mainstays of its repertoire is Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz of 1967, composed for the Romero family, who were mentors to the LAGQ in its formative years. In style and form, the concerto is virtually a quadruple variation on the Concierto de Aranjuez : The same strumming bolero rhythm permeates its first movement, and the slow movement is similarly lyrical—if not quite so obsessively memorable—as that of the earlier work. Rodrigo’s attractive qualities are all present: piquant orchestration, spicy harmonies, and an individual blend of flamenco and Spanish Baroque characteristics. The Romeros recorded the concerto for Mercury with Victor Alessandro and the San Antonia Symphony Orchestra (the premiere performers) and later for Philips with Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, but this new release with the LAGQ is their equal and, as I said, is stunningly recorded.
Sergio Assad and his brother Odair are a famous classical guitar duo, contemporaries of the LAGQ. Over the years, Sergio has added composition to his activities and written concert works for the violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, among others. The quartet commissioned the concerto Interchange from him; it was first performed in 2009. While the whole quartet plays throughout, each of the first four movements relates to the musical taste of an individual member. Thus, the first movement reflects founding member William Kanengiser’s interest in Middle Eastern music, the second mixes flamenco and Balkan influences for Scott Tennant, the third refers to modern jazz for the newest member, Matthew Greif (and allows him some leeway for improvisation), while the fourth brings in blues and Brazilian influences for John Dearman. A fifth and final movement ties it all together. Although the work runs slightly over 30 minutes, this stylistic variety ensures that musical interest and vitality never lag for a moment. Assad knows guitar technique inside out, and while the orchestra’s role is basically an accompanying one, it is not without its own melodic and textural interest.
The performance of Interchange is well balanced and brilliant; there is always something special about hearing music played by the musicians for whom it was written. Such joyful and skillful music-making receives an unconditional thumbs-up from me. In fact, I have just squeezed this CD onto my annual Want List. It’s that good.
FANFARE: Phillip Scott
Works on This Recording
Interchange by Sérgio Assad
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet,
Delaware Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Rodrigo Concertos November 6, 2018
By Richard Passoth (Denver, CO) See All My Reviews
"The guitar playing is superior. A wonderful piece, beautiful orchestration. Very well done."
how to choose??? January 14, 2014
By K. Suko (Charlottte, NC) See All My Reviews
"My husband bought LAGQ's Labyrinth after hearing it on our classical music station. We both enjoy it so much that I thought a different album by them would be a great gift. It would have been easier to select one had I heard it, but he's pleased with Interchange - and I am too. The review on ArkivMusic not only helped me choose but also provided some elements for which to listen as we absorb their virtuosity."