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SAFFIRE
Gareth KOCH

Rumba Flamenca
Peter Maxwell DAVIES (b. 1934)

Farewell to Stromness (1980, arr. Eriksson)
Maximo Diego PUJOL (b. 1957)

Grises y Soles
Enrique GRANADOS (1867 – 1916)

Danzas Españolas No. 11, No.4 and No.6 (1893, arr. Eriksson)
Phillip HOUGHTON (b. 1954)

Opals
Stanley MYERS (1930 – 1993)

Cavatina from The Deer Hunter (1970, arr. Field)
Richard CHARLTON (b. 1955)

Stoneworks (2002)
Saffire (Gareth Koch, Antony Field, Karin Schaupp, Slava Grigoryan)
Recorded: Ghostgum Audio, brisbane, January-February 2003
ABC CLASSICS 476 701-2 [64:06]


The repertoire for multiple guitars (trios and quartets) mainly consists of often successful transcriptions of pieces from quite different sources. Fortunately, some performing groups regularly commission new works for this grouping. Most pieces here fall into this category, and the majority were composed for the Saffire guitar quartet. Pujol’s Grises y Soles ("Light and Shade"), Houghton’s Opals and Charlton’s Stoneworks, all originally written for guitar quartet, are most welcome additions to the medium. All are idiomatically written and perfectly balanced, never outstaying their welcome, as well as being pleasantly varied. Pujol’s piece depicts urban life in Buenos Aires, with its contrasting calm and bustle and with a pinch of tango. Houghton’s Opals is an appropriately colourful kaleidoscope of light and shade. Charlton’s Stoneworks, too, deals with various aspects of stone, i.e. precious stones (sapphire and diamond in the first movement, and emerald and ruby in the second). The third movement, Standing Stones evokes large megalithic sites such as Stonehenge and the Orcadian Standing Stones of Stenness. The final movement Stones of Power deals with the power that stone has given man as represented in monuments and cathedrals.

This programme also includes some transcriptions, such as Maxwell Davies’s short piano piece Farewell to Stromness (this and Yesnaby Ground are piano interludes from his Yellow Cake Revue) which work remarkably well, and three dances from Albéniz’s Danzas Españolas.

Two shorter, somewhat lighter but nevertheless attractive pieces are also included for good measure: the delightfully extrovert Rumba Flamenca by Gareth Koch (one of Saffire’s guitarists) and Stanley Myers’ attractive Cavatina from his film score The Deer Hunter heard in an idiomatic and very effective transcription by Antony Field (another of Saffire’s members).

This delightful and attractive programme, superlatively played, is a feast from first to last, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Do give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

Hubert Culot



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