Gustav Klimt String Quartet

Kiss The Guitar Player

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Klimt!, otherwise known as the Gustav Klimt String Quartet, says in the booklet notes (in Dutch and English) that its aim with Kiss the Guitar Player was "to portray a kaleidoscopic view of the Dutch guitar scene." This the group does, but, as often happens when something is done well, it also accomplishes something beyond the original goal. The music is light, and the album title whimsical, but this album does nothing less than reflect on the relationship between the guitar and the bowed strings, in the past as well as the present. When you first hear the quartet playing funky music in the opening Gustav on the Rocks, by guitarist Peter Tiehuis, you may think this is another of the many attempts at Kronos Quartet cloning that appeared in CD catalogs, but the program quickly becomes more diverse. The key is that most of the music was newly comissioned, from performing guitarists, and it set only a single condition: the composer was not to use a concerto-like texture, with the strings backing up the guitar, but rather was charged with creating the titular "dialogues." Put that together with the variety of styles these guitarist-composers play and you've got a couple of intersecting axes that result in music falling all over the range. Bert Meulendijk's Into Ecstasy (track 2) sets rock electric guitar against high string duets. There is classic pop, jazz, more or less formal concert music, and flamenco influences at several points. The frame is perfectly set in place with the inclusion of a couple of movements of the conventional starting point of music for guitar and string quartet, the Quintet in D major for guitar and strings, G. 448, of Luigi Boccherini. Let's just say these are heavily tweaked. A delightful release combining experiment and entertainment in a way at which the Dutch seem to excel.

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