Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

Interchange: Concertos by Rodrigo and Assad

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Much of the Telarc label's prize-winning engineering staff departed in a 2009 corporate restructuring. This disc, crediting engineer Robert Friedrich, was apparently recorded before that event, although it was not released until 2010. It shows that the famed Telarc sound, usually applied to symphonic recordings, was equally well-equipped to handle these concertos for the unusual combination of guitar quartet and orchestra; the balance between the guitar and the Delaware Symphony Orchestra under David Amado could not have been more perfectly adjusted. The Concierto Andaluz of Joaquín Rodrigo, heavily modeled on the composer's ubiquitous concertos for solo guitar and orchestra, serves as a little curtain-raiser for the main attraction: Interchange, composed for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and taking into account the styles and interests of each of its individual members. The composer is Brazil's Sergio Assad, himself well known as a guitar recitalist in partnership with his brother, Odair Assad (or equally talented but less well-known sister, Badi Assad). The title Interchange refers not only to the musical conversation among the members of the quartet represented by the work, but also literally to a freeway interchange in downtown Los Angeles where four different roads come together in a single stack. Assad offers four movements, each placing a single movement of the quartet in a highlighted role, featuring in turn Sephardic Jewish melodic material, gypsy music, West Coast American jazz (in the Pacific Overlook movement), and a unique mixture of blues and the Brazilian forró dance style, given the title "Forroblues Detour." For the finale, entitled "Crossings," Assad tries to bring all these components together. It doesn't quite happen; the movement is episodic rather than unifying. But it gives the guitarists plenty to do, and even if the work is less than fully successful as a concerto, it is consistently exciting. The growing contingent of guitar quartet fans will welcome this unique concerto disc, which also bodes well for Telarc's transitional period.

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