WORKS: Works for Guitar Quartet by Assad, Villa-Lobos, Gismonti, Dyens, Bellinati
PERFORMER: Aquarelle Guitar Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10512
The language of the guitar – huge, sometimes weird, vocabulary, and asymmetric, anti-pianistic grammar – is one that precious few big-name composers have remotely understood.
Most good repertoire is by composer-guitarists. The burgeoning quartet genre offers great possibilities, but needs experienced writing and sharp ensemble to avoid sounding like jailer’s keys. So hooray: we get both in this instantly likeable tribute to the Brazilian sound.
The highlight is Roland Dyens’s Brésils, which comprises of six attractive pieces that expertly utilise guitar colours while paying homage to rainforest birds, chôros-playing buskers, and the seductive sway of João Gilberto thrumming Jobim’s Girl from Ipanema.
Villa-Lobos’s familiar floating ‘Aria’ may not sustain on even four guitars convincingly enough for everyone; but from composing father and daughter Sérgio and Clarice Assad come vibrant, sometimes rock-explosive, album-tracks that mix carnival with cool.
More well-textured popular appeal comes from Egberto Gismonti (hear the wistfully lovely duet Memória e Fado) and Paulo Bellinati.
With outstanding playing and infectious spirit, this is no mere niche guitar CD, but a luscious and lively general-appeal winner. Rob Ainsley