Review of The Dublin Guitar Quartet Performs Philip Glass, Orange Mountain Music, 2014
What shall I say? Beautiful record. Avant-garde music has never been so enjoyable. If you love Philip Glass and you feel the strong desire to hear his music transcribed for classical guitar … this cd is for you.
The Dublin Guitar Quartet is a quartet of Irish guitars, which is specialized in the performance of contemporary classical music, especially music associated with the minimalist composers such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt and Kevin Volans. Most of their repertoire consists of own transcriptions of works by these composers. They also transcribed and performed works by György Ligeti, Igor Stravinsky and Michael Nyman. On this record they play four strong quartets by American composer.
The album begins with the four movements of the Second String Quartet by Philip Glass, it’s a true lyrical piece, almost romantic with strong melodies and with a deceptively simple layout that reflects his pioneering minimalist compositions. This piece was originally composed for the Mabou Mines Theater Company in New York which considers Glass as his “unofficial” composer for almost three decades, and the name derives from the work of Samuel Beckett’s “Company”.
His String Quartet No. 5 is probably the best known of his chamber works, because it was performed by the Kronos Quartet and the Smith Quartet with their first-rate recordings, but also because its more traditional approach and the neo-romantic sentiment got a special attraction to a wide audience. This work presents five movement patterns and the characteristic Glass’ pulse, passed by the amplified 1970 minimalism to more 1980’s soft acoustic textures, although this music is melodically much more contoured and expressive.
The String Quartet No. 4 (Buczak), was written as a piece in memory for the artist Brian Buczak. It was commissioned by Geoffrey Hendricks and performed for the first time at the funeral service for the 2nd anniversary of his death, 4 July 1989. The music is a kind of musical impression on his person as well as a tribute to the work of his life.
Closes the album the String Quartet No. 3 (Mishima), made for the soundtrack of the Paul Schrader’s movie. Glass uses the introspective nature of the string quartet to accompany the memories of Mishima’s life, creating a qualitatively very intimate music. There is also a deliberate sense of detachment and austerity which gives them a cohesion and unity in the guitar quartet’s transcription.
A truly remarkable record, both for the performers’ skills, really exceptional, and the quality of the transcriptions which give the sense of Glass’s counterpoint and melodies. Enjoyes it accompanied by a red wine glass during a cold autumn evening.
“This is a very special arrangement. Arranging for guitars is a very tricky business and you really have to know what you are doing, so i have never done it, but Dave Flynn and Brian Bolger [Dublin Guitar Quartet] have made these arrangements and they’re really quite beautiful.”—Philip Glass