Vocalise [TrackList follows] – Cube Squared Records
World Tour [TrackList follows] – Cube Squared Records

by | Mar 4, 2015 | Classical CD Reviews

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

—John Sunier

Related Reviews
Logo Autumn Hill Records Full Size
Logo Pure Pleasure