Brazilian Guitar Quartet box set by the Latin Grammy Winners – [AlbumList follows] Delos DE6013 (5 CDs) [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
I wasn’t aware there had been five Brazilian Guitar Quartet CDs so far. We gave their Bach Orchestral Suites CD a rave review back in 2000. [No longer in our archives – sorry.] There are now a number of guitar quartets active worldwide, but the Brazilian Guitar Quartet won a Latin Grammy last year for Best Classical Album, for their CD of all Villa-Lobos works—included in this boxed set. They create mostly their own arrangements, and in the Bach Suites it almost sounds as if the pieces were originally composed for this instrumentation. They also play with great clarity and accuracy, and are well-recorded by Delos.  This set puts their entire recorded catalog at your fingertips at a bargain price.
Encantamento will familiarize you with some of the fine works by various Brazilian composers, in excellent arrangements for the guitar quartet. We made their Essencia Do Brasil one of our Best of the Year discs in 1999, saying it was “an ideal synthesis of brightness and reverie…”, and here is our review of their other single-composer CD, their unique arrangement of the complete Iberia of Isaac Albeniz, which almost sounds as if writing for four guitars rather than solo piano.
The quartet has a unique sound due to founder Paul Galbraith working with master luthier David Rubio in remodeling the standard guitar. He placed an additional string both above and below the normal six strings, thus making it an eight-string guitar.  The topmost string adds a rather harp-like tone to the sound of the guitar, and the lower one extends its bass reach. The guitar is held upright for playing, more like a cello, with a tail-piece resting on a resonance box, which carries the sound further than a standard guitar.  Galbraith traveled the world and finally settled in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he and three other guitarists founded the Brazilian Guitar Quartet in 1999. The Brazilian press referred to the Quartet as “The Dream Team” of guitarists. In 2003 Galbraith left the quartet to pursue solo engagements, and his place was taken by Luiz Mantovani.
If you’re a fan of guitar quartets, or any sort of quartets or aggregations of similar instruments (as I am) you should have this terrific 5-CD set in your library.
AlbumList:
Brazilian Guitar Quartet Plays VILLA-LOBOS
Encantamento
ALBENIZ: Iberia
Essencia Do Brasil
BACH: Four Suites for Orchestra
John Sunier