"Dances" = Works of GISMONTI, SCOTT, BOCCHERINI, PIAZZOLLA, TRADITION, LAGRENE, Etc. [TrackList below] – Aquarelle Guitar Quartet – Chandos CHAN 10609, 61:13 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
This is an encore to the delightful debut CD on this label from the Aquarelles – Spirit of Brazil. The ensemble has widely performed two of the great concertos for four guitars – the Rodrigo and Torroba’s Concierto Iberico. The British quartet has assembled here a fine program of 18 selections built around the theme of dance forms. The guitar is perfect for this sort of percussive rhythmic material, and four of them are even better.
The opening piece sort of continues the theme of their previous Brazilian album. It is built on the baiao folk rhythm from northeastern Brazil, and gets things off to a lively start. Argentina is also represented in the gorgeous Death of the Angel by Piazzolla, and the Mexican folksong Malaguena Salerosa has a strong dance rhythm, coming originally from the flamenco culture of Spain.
The major work on the album is by the British composer Andy Scott, and is an eight-movement suite of seven dances and “No Looking Back,” written especially for the quartet. “The Swan LK 243” is a gentle musical remembrance of its composer – harpist Catriona McKay – having been a crew member during a tall ship race in 1999. The energetic closing track is from leading gypsy jazz guitarist Birelli Lagrene, in the virtuosic style of Django Reinhardt, but expanded to four guitars.
The spatiality and presence of the four guitarists is really excellent – as good as the multichannel SACDs from the LA Guitar Quartet. Still, it’s too bad Chandos didn’t choose to release this as one of their few recent SACDs.
TrackList: GISMONTI: Baiao Malandro; EDUARDO MARTIN: Hasta Alica Baila; ANDY SCOTT: Seven Dances and No Looking Back; BOCCHERINI: Introduction and Fandango; TRAD.: Ajde Dali Znaes Pametis Milice, Pajduska, MAlaguena Salerosa, Tarantella; PIAZZOLLA: La Muerte del Angel; CATRIONA McKAY: The Sawn LK 243; BIRELI LAGRENE: Made in France.
– John Sunier