Santa Fe Guitar Quartet

Journeys

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The city referred to in the name of the Santa Fe Guitar Quartet is not the one in New Mexico but the one in Argentina. Still, the group has North American connections: two members, Eric Slavin and Christopher Dorsey, are North American, and this recording was made in Arizona. The program inventively mixes Latin American and North American influences, taking off from some familiar works by Astor Piazzolla (although Mumuki is not so familiar) but immediately moving into novel territory with arrangements of three pieces by U.S. jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. These include a percussive element that ideally complements the strongly rhythmic aspect of the Piazzolla pieces and throws the more conventional Spanish rhythms of the two Albéniz excerpts that follow into fresh relief. The two concluding works also cast light on the numerous interconnections between the North American and Latin American traditions. Argentine Carlos Guastavino is increasingly often heard in combination with Piazzolla; his output, mostly originally for piano or voice and piano, makes use of Argentine folk rhythms. The two Romances heard here, originally for two pianos, extend the language of Argentine creole music in something of the same way Piazzolla treated the tango. The two final works are again by an American, Will Ayton, again under Latin influence -- his Prelude and Ricercar for guitar, although they don't sound much like Villa-Lobos, were written under the influence of the Brazilian's own encounter with Baroque polyphonic art; they extend Villa-Lobos' ideas in fascinating ways. This disc is beautifully recorded, although the visual presentation is less successful; the white print on a light blue background is virtually illegible. Nevertheless, among the entries competing with the phenomenally successful Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, this is certainly among the most novel and compelling.

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