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More than a mere quartet of talented musicians, the members of LAGQ are themselves composers as well as arrangers and ethnomusicologists, expanding the boundaries of the guitar quartet repertory. These four personable performers—John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tenant and Andrew York—offer, both on CD and live in recital, an evolving, daring, yet approachable listening experience. “It’s clear by now,” said The Los Angeles Times, “that the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet is one of the wonders of the chamber music scene rooted in the West. It boasts intricate arrangements, all-for-one empathy and repertoire-stretching adventurism.”
Based in Los Angeles, LAGQ sprouted from soil rich in Latin-American culture. The selections on this album, LAGQ Latin, reflect the rhythmic vitality and colorful harmonies that are the essence of Latin music. More than that, the repertory—primarily from the 20th century—also reflects what composers from other countries believe to be a Latin sound and feeling.
From its haunting opening arrangement of Sting’s Latin-tinged song Fragile to the rousing sounds of the traditional Spanish flamenco Sevillanas, LAGQ Latin takes the listener on a journey to Latin lands and cultures, including Cuba, Central America, South America, and Spain.
South America is represented in a reworking of Forrobodo by jazz great Egberto Gismonti, as well as by an arrangement of tango master Astor Piazolla’s Fuga y Misterio (Fugue and Mystery). From Cuban composer Eduardo Martin comes the virtuosic La Trampa (The Trap) and Hasta Alicia Baila (Even Alicia Dances), which is based on the guaguanco, a “call and response” form of the Cuban rumba. Cuban Landscape with Rain, by pre-eminent Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, creates a complete rainstorm, beginning with occasional water droplets and ending with a raging torrent complete with hail.
American composer Aaron Copland’s Latin interpretations are heard in two of his three Latin American Sketches: Paisaje Mexicano (Mexican Landscape) and Danza de Jalisco (Dance from Jalisco). LAGQ’s Andrew York created an inspired adaptation of the slow movement from Joaquin Rodrigo’s popular Concierto de Aranjuez, titled En Aranjuez con tu amor (In Aranjuez with your love). York’s composition Syzygy (taken from the astronomical term for an event in which two astronomical bodies are aligned with our Sun in a straight line) is a flamenco-flavored piece written as a commission for the San Francisco-based group Festival of Four. This performance features guest flutist James Walker.
William Kanengiser contributed his own arrangement of a six-movement suite from Bizet’s opera Carmen, which has become a perennial audience favorite at LAGQ concerts.
Recognized as one of America’s premier instrumental ensembles, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet is one of the most charismatic and versatile groups performing today. Popularly known as the LAGQ, these four dynamic virtuosi bring a new energy to the concert stage with their eclectic programs and dynamic musical interplay.
The LAGQ has given recitals in many of the world’s top concert halls, including Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, and New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. They have toured extensively in Europe and Asia.
In recent seasons, the LAGQ has been heard on Minnesota Public Radio’s St. Paul Sunday Morning, and seen as soloists in a nationally broadcast performance with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops on PBS’s “Evening at Pops.” They have also been featured on CNN’s Show Biz Today, CBS’s Saturday Morning and A&E Network’s Breakfast with the Arts.