Spanning Madonna's entire career over nine songs, The String Quartet Tribute to Madonna is an entertaining, often whimsical look back at some of the most memorable pop songs of the latter 20th century. Performed instrumentally on violin, viola, cello, and bass, the arrangements stick closely to the originals, often simply replacing the vocal line with a violin. Often, the instruments will emulate specific sounds from the songs. For instance, the high-pitched squeals that drop between lyrical couplets in the verses of "Material Girl" are specific to that song and imprinted on listeners' brains. Here, the violinist pricks the strings of her instrument with her bow to achieve the same effect. It makes the performance, as to exclude the squeals would have been to kill the vitality of the song. Elsewhere, reverb is employed to the violin for ethereal effect on "Like a Prayer," "Crazy for You"'s already beautiful melody is accentuated by the warm tones of a cello, and "Ray of Light" is transformed into an outtake from a Björk album (which the original sort of was in the first place).
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus