BRAZILIAN GUITAR QUARTET, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah, Jan. 26

In a refreshing change from string quartets and piano trios, the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City brought the Brazilian Guitar Quartet to Utah. The foursome (Everton Gloeden, Tadeu Do Amaral, Luiz Mantovani, Gustavo Costa) has been around for more than a decade and has made quite a name for itself in the concert hall and in the recording studio in that time.

There isn’t much original music that has been written for four guitars so the program the ensemble played at its Jan. 26 concert consisted entirely of transcriptions – and it worked. The sound they produced was rich and full and the scope and range was symphonic, thanks in part to the fact that they use two eight string guitars along with two traditional six string instruments.

Being Brazilian the group naturally focused on the music of countryman Heitor Villa-Lobos. Half of the works they played were by him. The main piece on the program was the String Quartet No. 12, a late work from 1950. This was an excellent transcription that captured the depth of the music. The work is rather intense but lyrical and the ensemble gave a perceptive reading that brought out the bold expressiveness compellingly.

The quartet also performed selections from Villa-Lobos’ “Suite Floral” and “Cirandas.”

“Suite Floral” is an early work, and in the three movements that were played one could easily discern the influence French impressionism had on the young composer. Gorgeously melodic, the four guitarists gave a nuanced and finely crafted reading.

In “Cirandas,” Villa-Lobos transformed traditional Brazilian children’s tunes and created a clever and witty work that the foursome played with subtle dynamics and expressions.

Another Brazilian composer was on the program, the contemporary Ronaldo Miranda. They played his lovely and heartfelt “Variacoes Serias” (“Serious Variations”) with expressive accents that captured the different moods wonderfully and brought cohesiveness to the work as a whole.

Moving outside of South America, the concert opened with selections from J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3, in which the “Air” was the highpoint. They played it with finely crafted phrases and delicate nuances.

Four movements from Isaac Albéniz’s “Iberia” closed out the concert (plus a fifth for the encore piece). Their interpretation was exquisitely expressive and they conveyed the Spanish flavor of the music wonderfully. It was beautifully crafted and superbly articulated and executed.

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About Edward Reichel

Edward Reichel, author, writer and composer, has been covering the classical music scene in Utah since 1997. For many years he served as the primary music critic for the Deseret News. He has also written for a number of publications, including Chamber Music Magazine, OPERA Magazine, 15 Bytes, Park City Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He can be reached at Reichel Recommends is also on Twitter @ReichelArts.

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