The Opera String Quartet - or OS4 - has a track record in pun-curdling
album titles but what a quartet can do, so can a critic. Their
Handel tribute comes umlauted, of course, given that we have
tectonic Teutons on board and wielding salon implements to while
away a pleasing hour or so. A name of the musical game is to
force-feed Handel licks something from, say, Gershwin and see
what happens. The results are the light-hearted handiwork of
clavier tiger Wolfgang Heinzel, the arrangement guru of the foursome.
gets the disc underway with a food fusion
of Fugato and Latino hues, courtesy of the hip-swivelling El
there’s an engagingly jazzy ride
out chorus from clarinettist Wolfgang Weth. Next up is Frederic’s
in which - wouldn’t you know it - the Water
Music is genetically transformed into the Gershwin masterpiece
and along the way the shade of Alec Templeton peers down, benevolently
one hopes. It’s certainly a very busy arrangement. There’s
a laid back Bossa beat with sepulchral bass clarinet in the next
track and some Satie stews in The Double George.
culled from the finale of The Beggar’s Opera
a jazz waltz, though not in the way that Art Blakey would have
There’s a section devoted to OS4 Watergames, so called.
The First is a peppy salon charmer that infiltrates How High
but the second is altogether more wistful and a
little oasis of calm. The Third is augmented by harp, violin
and piccolo and a touch of the old bodhran. The Messiah Goes
sees some New Orleans lite marching from this
four piece as well as some funky bass clarinet licks. OS4 go
to town their arrangement of the Choir of Youths
add a full fusion spicy concoction to the mix, whilst La Paix
ends things in deceptive calm. This is derived from
the Fireworks Music - it’s actually the Largo alla Siciliana
and leaves us sated.
This is borderline listening - best heard al fresco with a chilled
wheat beer in one hand and an open guidebook in the other.