The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet started out playing Renaissance music before embarking on the genre-busting projects that have made it one of the most popular ensembles of its type. Thus this release marks something of a return to home territory. The emphasis in the New Renaissance title is decidedly on the "New," however, with some of the music newly composed and most of it tweaked in some way. The opening suite of 16 short pieces was arranged for a dramatic presentation, but works well enough on its own; the Fantasia que contrahaze la harpa en la manera de Ludovico of Alfonso Mudarra is an odd piece that sets the stage for the destabilization of the Renaissance tonal world later on. The pair of new pieces by Dusan Bogdanovic and Ian Krouse each take a single Renaissance work, an unnamed theme by lutenist Francesco Canova da Milano and Dowland's Frog Galliard, respectively, as material for a new composition. Each has variation-like aspects, but is not a set of variations. Composers have done this with Renaissance music before, but an effort on this scale, tailored to specific performers and making up such a major part of the program, is something new and exciting. Elsewhere mileage may vary. The booklet tells which guitarist is playing in which stereo channel, and there's lots of sonic razzle-dazzle that doesn't have much to do with the music. The guitars do sound exceptionally clear, however. For fans of the LAGQ's experimental approach, this release is likely to satisfy anew.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Six Ricercars on a Theme of F.C. da Milano|