Vocalise [TrackList follows] – Cube Squared Records C2R-606, 49:56 (1/16/15) ****:
World Tour [TrackList follows] – Cube Squared Records C2R-605, 49:45 (2/17/14) ****:
The Oregon Guitar Quartet continues their unusual theme programming in these two albums. The first, in spite of its title, has no vocal soloists, but is intended to present the guitar’s ability to sing a lovely melody in a unique way. The quartet feels they actually resemble a vocal choir due to their uniformity of pitch, timbre and the ability to rapidly divide into multiple parts in the score. They point out in the notes that there is no hierarchy in the quartet’s setup – no guitar one, two, three or four.
The dozen tracks encompass two categories: transcriptions of actual songs and instrumental works that seem to be like songs. Works of Bach, Faure, Gershwin, Sibelius, Ravel, Franck and Rachmaninoff are included. The longest track is the complete Prelude, Fugue and Variations by Cesar Franck, and their arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s well-known Vocalise, which naturally closes out the CD, is a gem. I wish it had been one of the tracks on the RCA CD of years ago which was nothing but a collection of various versions of the Vocalise.
And here they are.
The Water Is Wide Traditional 03:06
Pavane pour une infant Defunte Maurice Ravel 04:50
Arioso Johann Sebastian Bach 02:35
Valse Triste Jean Sibelius 04:00
Fantasia on Greensleeves Ralph Vaughn Williams 03:57
Piece en forme de habanera Maurice Ravel 02:34
Prelude George Gershwin 03:10
Pavane Gabriel Faure 05:56
Adagio Alessandro Marcello 04:11
The Nightingale and the Rose Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov 02:37
Prelude, Fugue and Variation Cesar Franck 08:34
Vocalise Sergi Rachmaninoff 04:20
The World Tour CD is an imaginary musical tour of the planet, with attention to the wide sweep of music traditions therein. They include music from 18th century Japan, from the Javanese gamelan tradition, a very early Chinese pipa work, a popular Russian folk song, some Greek folk music, a Catalonian lullaby from the 19th century, an Argentine gaucho folk dance and a wistful waltz with a beautiful melody from Oaxaca in Mexico.
The arrangements – all by quartet member Bryan Johanson – are really excellent and transcribe this world music to the very enjoyable format of the four classical guitars. The recording is also excellent and should please any audiophile, especially with one of the pseudo-surround settings.
1 The Autumn Wind Japanese Traditional 5:25
2 Java by Starlight Javanese Traditional 6:51
3 Morning Dew Chinese Traditional 4:24
4 Kalinka Russian Traditional 6:35
5 Olives, Lemons and Lamb Greek Traditional 5:32
6 Berceuse Catalan Traditional 5:39
7 Jammus Afrikanus Zimbabwe Traditional 6:52
8 El Gato Traditional Argentinian 5:14
9 La Sandunga Mexican Traditional 3:12