Thursday, July 30, 2009

Glass on guitar


Philip Glass is seen above with the Dublin Guitar Quartet in St. Patrick's, Dundalk in July 2008. The quartet performed Brian Bolger's transcriptions of two of the composer's string quartets with the man himself present. Downloads of Philip Glass introducing the concert and excerpts from the performance can be heard on the quartet's MySpace site. In response to my recent Gorecki on guitar post Brian Bolger asked me to tell readers about the availability of the Philip Glass files, and also pointed out that the Dublin Guitar Quartets Deleted Pieces CD being is not deleted (go figure!). It is available via iTunes, the quartets MySpace site, from Road Records and from several portal download sites.

Paths intersect here. Louth Contemporary Music Society's gorgeous CD A Place Between, which includes two works by Valentin Silvestrov, led me to the Dublin Guitar Quartet. From the LCMS' website I notice they have commissioned Silvestrov to write Five Sacred Songs for choir. The world premiere of the commission will be given St. Peter’s Church of Ireland, Drogheda on 24 Sept 2009. Silvestrov's Fifth Symphony featured here.

A week later on October 1, the Hilliard Ensemble give a concert in St Patrick's, Dundalk which includes several traditional Armenian hymns. There was a lot of interest in my recent path about discovering a CD of sacred Armenian music. The Hilliards have already recorded the music of contemporary Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian for ECM - Mansurian's Ragtime can be heard here. Will the rich traditional music of Armenia be the Hilliard's next recording project? Is lean forward County Louth, Ireland, the new world capital of contemporary music? How many holes does it take to fill the Albert Hall?


If there is one constant On An Overgrown Path it is the music of Bach. Transcriptions of his music for guitar are quite common, but today I am featuring two more unusual arrangements. Above is my 1985 LP of the Amsterdam Guitar Trio's arrangements of Brandenburg Concertos no. 2, 3, 5 & 6. This wonderfully exuberant and satisfying disc did make it briefly into RCA's CD catalogue with a nasty out-of-focus ECM style cover. That version has now disappeared, but an on-demand CD with the original artwork is available from ArchivMusic. Which is good news as the performance and sound from the Alt Katholische Kirche in Utrecht are both excellent. The transcription of the fifth Brandenburg retains the Ligeti-like harpsichord part. This is played by Tini Mathot, who also is credited with recording supervision, and who is also Mrs. Ton Koopman.

Below is an unusual arrangement of Bach's Four Suites for Orchestra BWV 1066~1069 made by the Brazilian Guitar Quartet. This disc, which was recorded in the First Congregational Church, Los Angeles for Delos, is still in the catalogue. Worth hunting out, although it lacks the sheer vitality of the Amsterdam Trio's Bach. At the time of the recording Paul Galbraith was a member of the Brazilian Quartet. His CD of Haydn keyboard sonatas arranged for 8-string guitar, also on Delius, is another transcription disc worth hunting out. But, be warned. If Glenn Gould's humming annoys you, Paul Galbraith's snuffling on the Haydn disc will drive you up the wall. Noises off? Plenty of those when John Cage is transcribed for guitar. And it's only a short path from Glass on guitar to Xenakis on glass.


Image credit, Dublin Guitar Quartet MySpace site. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

1 comment:

Pliable said...

Brian Bolger tells me that studio recordings of the Philip Glass quartet arrangements plus some Reich and Pärt have been made.

Brian says:

It's mixed and now we're looking for someone to take it on as a commercial release as we believe it has potential.

Record companies are you listening?