A much-loved part of the Australian music landscape, Guitar Trek’s newest recording is a wide-ranging set of pieces. With the tagline “gems from classical music and beyond” it’s easy to imagine a rather cynical combination of classical hits, but Guitar Trek have recorded a delightful programme with a solid mix of the familiar and unfamiliar. They’ve given us familiar names but with unfamiliar pieces (Rodrigo’s Four Pieces for Piano), as well as favourites that are always welcome (Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers).
One of the problems with the guitar quartet is that four of the same instrument results in a limited texture and range. Guitar Trek’s point of difference, however, is that they, along with Australian luthier Graham Caldersmith, have created a guitar “family” – they use treble, baritone and bass instruments, in addition to the normal guitar. This expansion creates significant new opportunities for performance, of which they take great advantage on this CD.
For example, part of the disc is devoted to South American music. One piece, Noite Serena (Serene Night) by Rufino Almeida, known as “Bau”, uses Guitar Trek’s classical bass as a substitute for the original piece’s electric bass. Were a standard guitar quartet (sans classical bass) to perform the same arrangement, much of the power present in this version would be lost; this colourful piece is one of the highlights of this recording. With such an inventive set of pieces on one CD, this is a family reunion you won’t mind having.