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Bach, Debussy, Chopin, Faure / Amsterdam Guitar Trio

Release Date: 01/31/2012 
Label:  Newton Classics   Catalog #: 8802093  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachClaude DebussyFrédéric ChopinGabriel Fauré
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A casual look at the programme might reasonably raise the reader's expectation of a recording of one- and two-piano music, but it would be a misguided one—six, not four, hands are involved, and if there was a piano in the studio at the time it remained silent; the hands are those of three guitarists. There is, however, nothing new in the arrangement of judiciously chosen piano music for one or more guitars, indeed such arrangements helped to see the music of Granados and Atbéniz through lean years, and it is a decade since Julian Bream and John Williams recorded their duo arrangement of the Dolly suite (also for RCA). It might be objected that, though both the piano and the guitar are percussive instruments, the sonorities are Read more radically changed, but they are no less so when harpsichord music emerges from a piano. Have not, too, composers orchestrated some of their piano works—and even guitar pieces (start with Falla and Rodrigo), and who has complained about Busser's orchestration of Debussy's Petite Suite?

The guitar is capable of a far greater variety of tone-colour than any piano, so that these present arrangements are in effect orchestrations. There can be problems of co-ordination, not least with percussive instruments, when the work of one player is subdivided amongst more, but in this case they do not arise: the Amsterdam Guitar Trio have had the same personnel since their formation in 1978, and their members were fellow-students. They possess both technique and musicality in abundance and their ensemble has a unanimity of which any chamber ensemble, of whatever composition, might be proud. An advertising slogan once ran: "I've never tried Guinness—1 don't like it"; don't reject this recording without allowing yourself to enjoy this music in its new and alluring dress. No lingering objection could concern the recording per se, for it is superb.

-- John Duarte, Gramophone [7/1989]
reviewing the original release of the Debussy, Fauré and Chopin recordings


Bach’s music is no stranger to transcription; the composer himself visited upon some of these concertos diverse transformations, from cantata sinfonias to chamber concertos, in most cases adding or subtracting parts and instruments. The Amsterdam Guitar Trio, having around 18 strings at their disposal, may fairly and completely play the notes pretty much as Bach wrote them, but bring a new and diverting palette of instrumental colour.

That palette, at once vigorous and yet pastel-shaded, is even more germane to the musical ‘Impressionism’ of French composers at the turn of the 20th century. Debussy is claimed to be the father of the genre, but he hated the term and all its soft-focus implications of Monet made music (and music making money). Accordingly the AGT’s transcriptions are notable for their rhythmic vivacity.

We don’t hear much from the Amsterdam Guitar Trio these days – they gave their last concert in 2003 – so this reissue of two long-deleted albums is all the more welcome. Concert-goers in London and Amsterdam in particular will recall a dynamic ensemble, full of style and good humour that spills over into these recordings.
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Works on This Recording

Brandenburg Concerto no 2 in F major, BWV 1047 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1718; ?Cöthen, Germany 
Brandenburg Concerto no 5 in D major, BWV 1050 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720-1721; ?Cöthen, Germany 
Brandenburg Concerto no 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1710; ?Weimar, Germany 
Brandenburg Concerto no 3 in G major, BWV 1048 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1711-1713; ?Weimar, Germany 
Suite bergamasque by Claude Debussy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890/1905; France 
Petite suite for Piano 4 hands by Claude Debussy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1886-1889; France 
Rondo for 2 Pianos in C major, B 27/Op. 73 by Frédéric Chopin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Poland 
Dolly, Op. 56 by Gabriel Fauré
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Guitar Trio
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1897; France 

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