Playing and Overall Ensemble Razor-sharp

Playing and Overall Ensemble Razor-sharp

Gramophone, William Yoeman
More about Cuatro

Why ‘Cuatro’? Because the four guitarists of the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet are performing, on their fourth recording for Chandos, four works by four different composers who were inspired by the music of Spain and the sound of the Spanish guitar. Although the AGQ present the works chronologically, another order is possible – from intimate to expansive: Fernando Sor’s Grand Solo (solo guitar); Ian Krouse’s Folias (guitar quartet); Albeniz’s La vega (solo piano) and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol (orchestra).

But the arranger’s art ensures all’s equal. In the Sor, Sérgio Assad adds some attractive countermelodies and fills out the harmonies. William Kanengiser is concerned less with trying to match Rimsky-Korsakov’s brilliant scoring than with capturing the work’s Andalusian spirit. David Roe allows Albeniz’s quirky counterpoint to really breathe, while Krouse’s Folias – the only original composition here for four guitars – successfully combines minimalist techniques with traditional Spanish flavours. As with the AGQ’s previous three albums, not only are the playing and overall ensemble razor-sharp but every tone colour available to a guitarist is exploited to the full. The drama inherent in Sor’s Grand Solo is rendered with a lightness redolent of the salon, while the AGQ relish the exuberant writing and arranging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, imitations of castenets and all. The Albéniz benefits most from divvying up the parts, with each player subtly making room for their individual style.Finally, Krouse’s highly inventive Folias makes for a distincitve end to the programme as the players leave the ‘stage’ individually, à la Haydn’s Farewell Symphony. Serious fun.