Aquarelle Guitar Quartet: Aspects
As the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet point out in their booklet-note: ‘As four individuals with differing musical tastes, we have sought, over the years, to present to one another music from different genres that has inspired us…“Aspects” is therefore essentially a reflection of our career to date – a presentation of different aspects of the music that we love and that we perform in our concerts.’ They add that it is ‘both retrospective and prospective’, with favourites they’ve been performing for years rubbing shoulders with brand new works that will form part of future concert programmes.
You could say that this superb UK guitar quartet’s latest release starts with a bang and ends with a whisper, with former LA Guitar Quartet member Andrew York’s nervy blaze of tone streams and syncopations Quiccan opening the programme and John Brunning’s sweetly lachrymose Elegy for four guitars, commissioned for this album, bringing it to a gentle close. In between are works which together form a stylistically and dynamically rich offering, the perfect microcosm of which is Australian composer Phillip Houghton’s three-movement Opals, which is by turns adamantine, muscular, soft, sparkling, primal and fizzing with showers of aural sparks. There is wit and humour (Rossini); sobriety and reflection (Henshall); rough-hewn sophistication (Ginastera); punchy bluegrass (Marin/Punch Brothers); an explosive percussiveness (Rivera); and much else besides.
All is performed with that same customary blend of high-octane virtuosity, relaxed lyricism, tonal richness and perfection of ensemble which has made the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet not merely one of the world’s leading guitar ensembles but, for sheer imagination and musicality, equal to the finest string quartet going.