Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
Review by Karl Lozier
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SACD Number: Telarc SACD-60593
The four male instrumentalists comprising this now well-known guitar quartet have been performing together for twenty years. Each of their individual resumes is impressive in the extreme. As a result all of them are equally at home in the first chair position when performing. You may have heard them on the
Saint Paul Sunday Morning Pubic Radio broadcasts or on television with PBS's
Evening at Pops with the Boston Pops.
Their ensemble playing is deceptively superb. They make it all sound easy and effortless, which it probably is not. Admittedly they perform together so often and over such a long period of time that as professionals, you would expect them to give superb performances…and they do. Those of you with SACD surround players will be surrounded, literally, as each guitarist is assigned a channel. Left and right front and left and right surround are the four positions (channels). As listed in the liner notes, the individual players change positions for different selections. I have no idea why they change recording positions and the liner notes are quiet on the subject.
Many of the selections sound "rather familiar" as with many Spanish guitar recordings. That is only partly true with surprisingly fine recordings. The compositions are from or descriptive of Cuba, Central America, South America and Spain. The first selection is an arrangement of
Fragile composed by Sting! It has a bit of well produced percussion added to super guitar quartet. Another selection, Sevillanas features only half the quartet playing their guitars but adds two fine clappists playing the
"palmas" as is traditional with this flamenco selection. Also included are arrangements of two pieces by Aaron Copland.
There is real variety in the selections, you will not get bored as sometimes happens with albums featuring solo Spanish guitar. The highlight for most listeners is a fine arrangement of selections from a suite of six well-known selections from Bizet's
Carmen. The final selection is an arrangement of the second movement of Joaquin Rodrigo's
Concierto de Aranjuez, along with Rodrigo's Concierto Andaluz, they are two of the most beautiful guitar plus orchestra compositions ever, in my not so humble opinion.
The quartet makes for a richer and fuller sound than usually heard in guitar recordings. The selections are more interestingly varied than the norm. The sound reproduction is close to perfection, very musical and no highlighting or overemphasis. The initial transients of the guitar are neither over emphasized nor the least bit harsh.
I truly loved this superb recording. As you can easily deduce from my review, the resultant recommendation for this Telarc recording is the highest.