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March Funèbre d’une marionette (1873)
Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987)
y Danzas (Songs and Dances) (Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9,
Joaquin TURINA (1882–1949)
Oracion del Torero (Torero’s Prayer) (1925) [7.26]
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887–1959)
Choros No. 5: “Alma Brasileira” [4.55]
Valsa da Dor (Waltz of Sorrow) (1932) [4.36]
Brasileira No. 4: “Cantiga” [5.45]
Joaquín RODRIGO (1901–1999)
Lejana (Distant Saraband) (1926) [5.03]
Jose Luis PERALES (b.
Porque te Vas [2.31]
Isaac ALBENIZ (1860–1909)/Leopold
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921–1992)
Porteno (1965) [6.32]
Boris VIAN (1920–1959)/Jimmy
Tango Interminable des perceurs de
coffre-forts (1950) [4.28]
de Guitares de Versailles (Michel Grizard, Nicolas Courtin,
Jean-François Fourichon, Philippe Rayer)
rec. 21-22 August 2007, L’Auditorium d’Alençon
Versailles Guitar Quartet was founded in 1987. It was the
first ensemble of its type in France.
guitar quartet has an interesting history. The first work
for such an ensemble seems to have been written in the early
19th century: Antoine Lhoyer’s Theme with variations
and dialogue, written around 1815. But it was only in
the 20th century that regular ensembles came to
be formed. The Munich Guitar Quartet performed with success
from 1907 to around 1920. The Spanish guitarists, the Romeros,
father and son, with other family members, formed Los Romeros
quartet in 1961. In Argentina the Cuarteto Martinez Zarate
was formed in 1968.
the repertoire for such groups is heavily dependent on transcriptions.
On this new disc, the Versailles give us an attractive selection
of their own transcriptions, the majority based on Spanish
feature of the disc is the selection of seven items from
Mompou’s Canciones y Danzas. Mompou wrote these miniatures,
based on old Catalan popular songs, for piano solo. The piano
originals have a deceptive and elegant simplicity and the
quartet have preserved this in their transcriptions, surrounding
the melody line with some wonderfully transparent textures.
divided his time between his native Barcelona and Paris,
and it was in Paris that he made the acquaintance of Heitor
Villa-Lobos. Though Villa-Lobos wrote extensively for the
guitar, the quartet have mined his other works for their
transcriptions. Perhaps these are remarkably successful,
or maybe the guitar was always lurking in the recesses of
Villa-Lobos’s music, but you would hardly guess that these
pieces were not written for this combination of instruments. Ondulando is
a piano study, dating from 1914. Both this and Choros
No. 5 take the form of a melody line surrounded by a
richly-textured accompaniment. Choros No.5 was also
originally written for piano; it is subtitled Alma Brasileira (Soul
of Brasil) and like all the Choros, is inspired by Brasilian
street music. Valsa da Dor (Waltz of Sorrow) is another
haunting piece, dating from 1932. The Aria from Bachianas
Brasileiras No. 4 has some of the most complex textures
on the disc.
near contemporary, Joaquín Turina wrote music that was distinctively
Spanish whilst never being overly so. His piece La Oracion
del Torero was originally written in 1925 for a group
of Spanish lutes. He later re-arranged it for string quartet
and string orchestra. So the guitar quartet’s transcription
returns the work to something like its original roots. The
piece was inspired by Turina seeing a torero meditating in
a chapel close to the Madrid bull ring. It contrasts the
torero’s religious meditation with the lively noise of the
banda playing near the bull ring.
twenty years younger than Turina, Joaquín Rodrigo did write
for guitar quartet, including the Concierto Andaluz.
His Zarabanda Lejana (Distant Saraband) was originally
a guitar piece, which Rodrigo transcribed for piano and for
virtuoso Leopold Godowsky created his own pianistic version
of Albeniz’s Tango and this transcription attempts
to re-create Godowsky’s richly-patterned score on a guitar
quartet. The result is a haunting and charming version of
Carlos Saura used No. 6 of Mompou’s Canciones y Danzas in
his film Cria Cuervos. The film also included Jose
Luis Perales’s funky popular song Porque te vas during
the credits. So inevitably both items have found their way
together onto the disc, which is itself dedicated to Saura.
Piazzolla’s Las cuatro estaciones portenas depicts
the four seasons as seen by the Ports folk (as compared to
the Pampas folk), inspired by Vivaldi’s work. Originally
written for a quintet of violin, piano, electric guitar,
double-bass and bandoneon, the guitar quartet transcription
of Winter is one of a long line of transcriptions
of this fascinating and infectious music.
Nicolas Courtin shows that he doesn’t just play the
guitar as he takes the vocals in Boris Vian’s song Tango
interminable des perceus de coffre-forts (The Safe-crackers,
A boring tango) - a lovely end to a charming disc.
the performances of the guitar quartet are impeccable. The
transcriptions give all the pieces a lovely transparency
and a gorgeous sense of texture. This is a disc to put on
the player and just sit back and enjoy.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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