Guitar Trek is the interestingly named and long-lived ensemble
that normally delves into the outback of contemporary Australian
eclecticism and returns with platefuls of inventive material
with which to regale its audience. Here the guitar foursome has
instead turned to the sultry imprecations and haunting evocations
of España and Latin America and their strumming has been
at the service of such luminaries as de Falla and Turina and
Albéniz and - yes, it’s that man again - Piazzolla.
There are also a couple of contemporary composers to keep the
The arrangements are by members of the quartet, principally Timothy
Kain either alone or in collaboration with colleagues. The results
are piquant, spicy, saucy, swaying. You can hardly go wrong with
de Falla but these things still need to be sensitively arranged,
for the melodic lines to be appositely distributed and for the
transcription to avoid a sense of congestion or rhythmic overkill.
You can’t afford to do a Spinal Tap on the Pantomime
and I’m glad, but not surprised, that this
trap is avoided. Instead it’s florid and arresting and
the limpid Habanera
is duly brandished with care. The
Turina pieces, the Danzas fantásticas
, are just
as good. They are potent and poetic, with the elation of the
downward ‘piano’ run in Exaltación
particular highlight. Don’t pass by the softly textured mysterioso
its rippling, pulsing rhythmic textures, fluid as a Flamenco
girl’s pleated skirt twirls. And naturally Guitar Trek
doesn’t let us down with the multi-voiced burgeoning of Orgía
is a riotous conflation in their hands. It becomes more Spanish
Let me confront my Nemesis for a brief moment. I repeat my wish
that, like whale hunting or seal clubbing, we can have a moratorium
when it comes to the works of the immortal Piazzolla. Is he sexy?
Is he moody? Is he heck. Still, Oblivion
must be raking
in the post mortem royalties. I just don’t buy the quicksilver
mood changes of La muerte del angel.
Celso Machado turns in a respectable suite of popular dances
- all light and airy, these Brazilian songs pass rapidly and
are full of good things. Paulo Bellinati contributes Baião
an energetic dance with a complicated back story
as it was originally written for soprano saxophone and an instrumental
ensemble. The four guitar version, by the composer, came in 1994,
five years after he’d produced a three guitar version.
Well, why not?
An enjoyable programme then, particularly for admirers of the
group, its intrepid arrangers and the promise of some Iberian-Latino
sun and frolics. Well recorded it makes for diverting listening.