By: Brad Conroy
The Texas Guitar Quartet has recently released their debut CD Red. This recording marks a tremendous accomplishment for the classical guitar as the TxGQ tackles some larger and more challenging works not often heard in recital or on recordings, such as J.S. Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto” (BWV 1048) as well as Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture.”
The TxGQ consists of Isaac Bustos, Jonathan Dotson, Alejandro Montiel and Joseph Williams, all of which are accomplished solo guitarists in their own right. Their technical mastery, scholarship, passion, and intuitive ensemble playing contribute greatly to the remarkable nature of this recording.
Red opens with the three movements of J.S. Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto” and the TxGQ deliver a very expressive, clear, and near flawless performance of this masterpiece. The arrangement, by Richard Yates ,has been done with much attention in a very scholarly fashion, as the detailed nature of this music is spread evenly amongst the four guitars, sounding quite natural within this setting. Each voice is clear and balanced which complements and accentuates the intertwining melodic, harmonic and contrapuntal passages of Bach’s music.
The next piece on the recording is Antoine de Lhoyer’s “Air Varié et Dialogué” (c. 1813). The liner notes state that this is likely the very first piece composed with the guitar quartet in mind, and that it has been arranged by Mitch Weverka in order to distribute the virtuosic nature amongst the four guitars evenly in an effort to make it a true ‘dialogue amongst friends.’ Lhoyer, who was an accomplished performer and composer in his day, seems to not have found his way into the traditional repertoire of today’s leading guitarists and has only recently enjoyed a rebirth of his music. Lhoyer’s music is comparable to that of his contemporaries like Carulli and Giuliani and serves to be an excellent programming decision by the TxGQ.
The title track on Red is a three movement work composed by TxGQ member Joe Williams and is a remarkable piece which delivers a depth and a wealth of rich colors painting an intriguing atmosphere making this a very attractive work for guitar quartet. It is filled with unfolding harmonies, perpetual motions, harmonics, bright fortes and a delicate warmth to name a few of its effective devices. The TxGQ has really put their all into this performance and their passion toward this music is evident and helps to make this a stand out on the recording.
Red is an excellent first recording by the TxGQ and offers a slight departure from the standard repertoire of the guitar quartet. Red brings some very serious and important new works to the concert stage and the TxGQ perform with virtuosity, clarity, balance, and a refined character which will no doubt help to establish them as one of today’s leading guitar quartets.