Collection: Tetra

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: arranged for guitar quartet,Bernstein,Bock,Prokofiev,Walton and Weill
LABELS: Conifer
WORKS: By Arrangement: music by Bernstein, Bock, Prokofiev, Walton and Weill, arranged for guitar quartet
PERFORMER: Tetra
CATALOGUE NO: CDCF 903 DDD

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The very idea of a guitar quartet would normally send me running for cover. That the medium could provide an enjoyable listening experience has come as something of a surprise. This new anthology collects together some inventive arrangements by members of Tetra of such unlikely works, given the medium, as Bernstein’s West Side Story and Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé. It has to be admitted that half the fun in listening to these pieces comes as someone familiar with the music in its original form enjoying the wit and ingenuity with which it has been transcribed. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the variety of sounds four guitars can make where a single one usually sounds texturally staid.

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Thus, together with a judicious bit of percussion from the instrument’s body, we have the believable imitations of banjos in music from Weill’s Threepenny Opera, of sleighbells in the Kijé Troika and a side-drum in Walton’s Façade, while the soulful characteristic of the instrument comes to the fore in a tearful ‘Maria’ in the Bernstein (this is not a direct transcription of the symphonic dances more usually heard, but a swiftly-moving medley of all its most popular numbers) and a suite from Fiddler on the Roof. They are all played with verve by the four guitarists and recorded in an acoustic that allows both for the closeness necessary for guitars and for a pleasant, spacious ambience. Matthew Rye