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Friday, July 4, 2014

The Dublin Guitar Quartet Performs Philip Glass

The Dublin Guitar Quartet sound so good I want to join them, even if it is to carry around their guitar cases (roadies in an acoustic group such as this have a lighter load). Seriously though, their album The Dublin Quartet Performs Philip Glass (Orange Mountain Music 0092) is like a baker's dozen, that surprise extra item that rounds out and completes some of the good things this summer.

There are four guitarists playing classical guitars. That you might have gathered since it is on this page today. They transform four Glass string quartets (numbers 2, 5, 4 & 3) to make of them something very much "other". The music is not uninteresting to begin with--some convincing examples of Glass's beyond-pure-minimalism period, written from 1984 to 1991.

The Dublin Quartet's artistry make them sound not only idiomatic for guitars, they give you an arsenal of expressive guitar transformations in the service of the music, so much so that your ears wake up in a very good way. They sound bravura, delicate like a koto ensemble, muted, with harmonics, in full strummed voice, and quite a bit more. They almost sound unearthly.

It makes me like the music very much. The passages played the way they are on four guitars sound quite a bit more exotic and interesting than for the standard strings--though I'll admit I have not heard these works played by a string quartet. No matter there because I can get an idea while listening to the Dublin group playing it all.

They do a marvelous job translating the music for guitars. This is a group as expressive, disciplined and poetic as any I've heard in the four-guitar realm. The album is a marvel!

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