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November 1, 2012

Belated reviews Part 1: Baltimore Classical Guitar Society

Somehow, I have fallen farther behind than usual. I figure the best course now is to blame the Super Storm, since that might buy me some sympathy.

Besides, once that storm did hit, who was going to waste time reading my reviews of some musical events last weekend?

Well, just for the record, I do want to say a few words about two concerts I caught, starting Saturday night at Towson University, where the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet opened the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society's 25th anniversary season.

(I will subsequently report on the U.S. debut of Cuba's Schola Cantorum Coralina in Annapolis.)

After more than three decades, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet remains a formidable ensemble, both in terms of technical bravura and ...

musical personality. John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant and newest member Matthew Greif demonstrated a tight rapport throughout a colorful program that covered classical and jazz repertoire with equal flair.

A highlight was a suite from Stravinsky's "Pulcinella." This baroque-meets-20th-century score makes a fine fit for guitars, and the quartet made the most of Kanengiser's arrangement, producing a richly vibrant tone and articulating with admirable expressive nuance.

There was brilliant interplay between the guitarists in selections from de Falla's "El amor brujo" and Bryan Johanson's propulsive, percussive and witty "On All Fours."

A group of Brazilian pieces emerged in vivid detail. And it was cool to hear the guitarists switch into a persuasive jazz mode for classics by Miles Davis and John Coltrane (Greif did the arrangements); they hit an especially cool groove in "So What" and explored the smoky, late-night world of "Blue in Green" with impressive subtlety.

The Baltimore Classical Guitar Society has more attractions planned for its silver anniversary, including concerts by Sergio and Odair Assad (Feb. 9) and Manuel Barrueco (April 27).

Here's a taste of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, playing a work by Antonio Carlos Jobim:

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAGQ.COM

Posted by Tim Smith at 11:28 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes
        

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at baltimoresun.com/artsmash. This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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