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Four Suites for Orchestra - BWV 1066-1069 arranged for Guitar Quartet
Suite No.3 BWV 1068
Suite No.2 BWV 1067
Suite No.1 BWV 1066
Suite No.4 BWV 1069

The Brazilian Guitar Quartet
Delos DE 3254

Although J. S Bach's orchestral music has been transcribed for guitar ensemble before, notably selected Brandenburg Concertos by the De Falla Trio and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, this is the first recording of the four suites for orchestra that I have heard in a setting of this type; it is not a source of material that readily springs to mind for such treatment and certainly purists would decry such practices. However, Bach's raw material is beyond question and the Brazilian Guitar Quartets recording goes a long way to prove that such music can be presented in more than an acceptable and entertaining way. Incorporating two eight-string guitars benefits the music; I presume that the guitar of Everton Gloeden is strung the same as Paul Galbraith's, each with one added bass string and one extra treble string, which expand the range and sonority of the group over four conventional instruments.

The ensemble is at all times together, the contrapuntal lines well defined and the ornamentation clear and well articulated. The allegro movements fairly skip along and the slower movements convey suitable majestic intensity, rooted firmly in the baroque never straying into the romantic. Tonally all the members are well matched and although they do not adopt a wide palate of tone variation what they do use is intellectually employed.

Sadly the recording is marred by the intrusive (at times heavy) breathing of one of the musicians on the right hand side of the stereo image (if the playing positions are the same as the photograph on the CD booklet then the culprit is likely to be Paul Galbraith). This does reduce the enjoyment of what potentially would have been a performance of the highest order.

Andy Daly

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