Guitar Quartet Mixes Musical Styles

By Blumenthal, Fred | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 7, 1995 | Go to article overview

Guitar Quartet Mixes Musical Styles


Blumenthal, Fred, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


DESPITE the long history of guitar music, the guitar quartet is a recent development, and so depends largely on new compositions and transcriptions of older music for repertoire.

For instance, when the Chicago Guitar Quartet performed at the Ethical Society Saturday evening, as part of the Classical Guitar Society's concert series, its repertoire was drawn roughly half from each of these categories.

This group was formed while its members were studying for master's degrees in guitar performance at Northwestern University. They look young enough to lead to the conlcusion that this graduate study must have been recent; its members now make their living teaching at the college level and performing.

Perhaps of necessity, the Chicago Guitar Quartet's forte is ensemble playing. Piano duettists, who characteristically play at least one phrase a movement about a thirty-second-note apart, could learn an important lesson in the way this group uses eye contact to make ensemble attacks sound like solo playing.

The other side of the coin may also be a necessary by-product of ensemble playing: compared to other performers the Guitar Society's brought to St. Louis, such as the recent Virginia Luque, the Chicago Quartet seemed rather milk-toast. After all, crashing at tacks and dramatic gestures might destroy the sense of ensemble that quartets work so hard to establish.

The transcription of the "Concerto in D Major for Four Violins" by Georg Philipp Telemann was played accurately, but in general lacked rhythmic drive and excitement. Luigi Boccherini's "Introduction et Fandango" was played with more empathy for the music's sense, but of the older music, only Jeronimo Gimenez's "El Baile de Lois Alonso," as transcribed by Pepe Romero, hinted at the fire and expressive range normally associated with the last scheduled piece on a program. …

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