Tantalus Quartet


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AllMusic Review by James Manheim

A self-issued disc by a group formed in a music-school doctoral program doesn't normally circulate much beyond the relatives of the players involved, but this recording by the Tantalus Quartet, a group of guitarists associated with Florida State University, is genuinely novel. The players are confident technically, but it's the variety of music on the program that's most noteworthy. Bracketed by a pair of Mozart arrangements (the first an arrangement of Fernando Sor's Variations on a theme from the Magic Flute), the music traverses an impressive amount of musical geography, from traditional songs of Nova Scotia (the Blue Nose Ballads of Gerald Garcia) to sounds of Austin, TX (Alan Scott's City Songs), Bolivia (the Contrastes of Jaime M. Zenamon), Turkey (Carlo Domeniconi's Oyun, with its unusual non-Spanish percussive elements), and, in the capable hands of Brahms, Hungary. The original music, mostly by young composers, is all enjoyable, but it is the imaginativeness of the quartet's own arrangements that suggests it is headed for big things: Luzzasco Luzzaschi's gloomy madrigal Non sa che sia dolore hardly suggests a treatment by four guitars, but the quartet's version both preserves the intertwining vocal lines and emphasizes the daring, Gesualdo-like dissonances in the music. The two Brahms Hungarian Dances suggest the quartet's infectious rhythmic drive. One enthusiastically awaits further releases from a group that has already broadened the growing guitar quartet genre.

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