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Mēla Guitar Quartet | Pluck, Strum, and Hammer

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Classical: Twentieth Century Classical: Contemporary Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Pluck, Strum, and Hammer

by Mēla Guitar Quartet

Bringing the colours and textures of four classical guitars to life with a wonderfully inventive, eclectic mix of repertoire - from famous operatic melodies, to Brazilian music, Jazz and even a fusion of Handel and Hendrix
Genre: Classical: Twentieth Century
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Samson and Delilah, Op. 47, Act 3: "Bacchanale" (Arr. for Guitar Quartet)
7:31 $0.99
2. Carmen Fantasy: I. Torero
2:46 $0.99
3. Carmen Fantasy: II. Habanera
5:19 $0.99
4. Carmen Fantasy: III. Aragonaise
4:37 $0.99
5. Carmen Fantasy: IV. Seguidilla
4:37 $0.99
6. Carmen Fantasy: V. Gypsy Song
3:49 $0.99
7. Pluck, Strum, and Hammer
4:24 $0.99
8. Brubeck Medley: Strange Meadowlark / Blue Rondo À La Turk / Take Five / Cassandra (Arr. for Guitar Quartet)
5:46 $0.99
9. Scaramouche, Op. 165b: III. Brasileira (Arr. for Guitar Quartet)
2:34 $0.99
10. Gismontiana: Água E Vinho (Arr. for Guitar Quartet)
5:35 $0.99
11. Uarekena
8:14 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Mēla guitar quartet

Formed in 2015, the quartet have since been International Guitar Foundation young artists in 2016, have released a CD of the guitar chamber works of Stephen Dodgson with NAXOS in 2017, and are Park Lane Group young artists for the 2018/19 season.
They have performed in venues such as St. James’ Church, Piccadilly; Kings Place, Hall one; Milton Court, Barbican; International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester and Jimi Hendrix’s bedroom (!), at the ‘Handel and Hendrix in London’ museum.
Daniel Bovey is a member of the acclaimed Vickers-Bovey guitar duo (vickersbovey.co.uk). The duo are the dedicatees of a number of new works by composers including Michael Finnissy, Joe Cutler and also Ryan Probert, who wrote the duo an extensive work, Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji, of which a recording was released in April 2016 supported by the Japan Society.
George Tarlton: solo performances include, Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Cerddorfa Dinas Powys Orchestra, Wales. Guildhall Alumni guitar spectacular at Milton Court, Barbican, London. BBC Radio 3 Late Junction. King’s Place Hall 2 for IGF. As members of the Tarlton-Housden duo, George and Jiva have performed in venues
throughout the UK such as Kings Place and Milton Court. The duo were IGF artists for 2018-19.
Jiva Housden is one of the founding members of the London Strings Festival, which began in September 2018 (londonstringsfestival.co.uk). Jiva has performed in a variety of chamber ensembles and orchestras leading him to play in venues across London such as: Kings Place, Milton Court, Barbican main hall,
St James Piccadilly, LSO St Lukes and St Martin in the Fields.
Matthew Robinson performs regularly with virtuoso guitarist Eduardo Niebla and frequently tours large concert halls and theatres throughout the UK and Europe. Together they have appeared on RTE Irish television, BBC Radio 3 InTune, BBC4 Loose Ends with Clive Anderson and The Cerys Matthews show on BBC radio 6. He also works as a soloist having been the Courtauld Institute’s musician in residence and performing the Rodney-Bennett guitar concerto at the Purcel Room, London, conducted by Ben Gernon.

Visit their website www.melagq.com to find out about their upcoming projects.

The quartet play guitars by master luthier Michael Gee.

About the music:

Camille Saint-Saëns | Bacchanale arr. Bovey

Samson et Dalila has become one of Saint-Saëns’ most staged operas and one of his most enduring works. Its famous instrumental dance, the Bacchanale, is often performed by orchestras as a concert work. It is a brilliantly energetic piece, full of exotic orchestral colour and exciting rhythms, depicting Philistine priests dancing savagely before a ritual sacrifice in the temple of Dagon. This arrangement utilises the range of timbral colours of the guitar, often thought of as an ‘orchestra in miniature’, to explore and capture the piece‘s symphonic character.
Saint-Saëns was a hugely influential figure in France at the end of the 19th century/start of the 20th century, famously teaching Gabriel Fauré (who then went on to teach Maurice Ravel). The neo-classical elements in Saint-Saëns’ writing foreshadowed Igor Stravinsky and the group of 20th century French composers known as Les Six that included Darius Milhaud. Not that Saint-Saëns was particularly thrilled with the direction music was taking in the 20th century. Upon hearing Milhaud’s polytonal symphonic suite Protée (1919) he commented, "fortunately, there are still lunatic asylums in France".
Saint-Saëns admired the operas of Georges Bizet and he saw himself and Bizet as brothers in arms. Saint-Saëns’ La Princesse Jaune and Bizet’s Djamileh were comic operas produced together and staged on the same evening. Equally, Bizet was an admirer of Saint-Saëns’ music, transcribing the 2nd piano concerto for piano solo and Rondo Capriccioso for piano and violin duet.In his later years Saint-Saëns expressed that he thought Bizet’s Carmen was one of the greatest cultural achievements of France.

Steve Goss | Carmen Fantasy (1998)

Steve Goss, Welsh composer, guitarist and academic, was a founding member of the celebrated Tetra guitar quartet. His Fantasy on the themes of Bizet’s Carmen is an example of his mastery of the guitar quartet instrumentation. The piece is best explained in his own words:
“There is no opera quite like Carmen. The tragic story of a femme fatale murdered by a jealous lover, set in summer heat of Seville combining the worlds of smuggling gypsies, dueling soldiers and heroic bullfighters.
This Carmen Fantasy draws not only on the music of Georges Bizet, but also makes references to the various other Carmen Fantasies which have been written. I have concentrated on the Andalusian music in the opera, the music of Escamillo the Toreador from Granada and the music of Carmen herself.
The opening movement, Torero, is based on Escamillo’s well-known Act 2 aria The Toreador’s Song, which has been cut, pasted and spliced with some of the music from the final scene of Act 4. The Habanera is a montage of habaneras by various composers, the most prominent and recognisable being the two piano pieces by Debussy: Soirée dans Grenade from Estampes (1903) and La puerta del Vino from the Second Book of Preludes (1911-13). This Habanera has a sultry, three-in-the-morning atmosphere, imbued with a dark sensuality.
The Aragonaise violently and abruptly breaks the spell of the Habanera with a battery of percussion effects and the superimposed hemiola rhythms of the Bulerias. After a cadenza the music climaxes in an orgy of of rasguado strumming before subsiding and transforming into Carmen’s coquettish ‘Tra la la la’ aria from Act 1. This, in turn, slithers its way into the Seguidilla.
The Seguidilla is striped of the suave, sophisticated, operatic grandeur of Bizet’s setting and given a more earthy treatment with driving rhythms and grimy chords – seduction with dirty fingernails.
After this fiery dance wanes, the sublime music from Carmen’s moving Act 3 aria Carreau, pique…la mort! floats above repeated pizzicato chords. No matter how Carmen shuffles the cards, each time she lays them out in front of her, the cards spell death. This music melts into a sinister, pianissimo coda built on the fate motive, a recurring theme which haunts the entire score of Carmen – D, C#, Bb, C#, A.
The finale is a virtuoso tour de force for all four guitarists based on the Gypsy Song from the beginning of Act 2. It also pays homage to Horowitz’s Carmen Variations and uses the soiled harmonic language of the other movements of this Carmen Fantasy. The mood and character flit quixotically from one extreme to another, never settling until a quiet calm falls over the piece about three quarters of the way through. Then follows a flowing cadenza before the whole work is concluded with a triumphant climax in a breath taking coda taken at break-neck speed.” - Steve Goss 1999

Bryan Johanson | Pluck strum Hammer (2003)

Where Steve Goss mixed themes from Bizet’s Carmen with that of other French composers, Bryan Johanson creates an even more extreme musical contrast.
“I had read that the apartment where Hendrix lived in London was near where Handel had lived. I thought it would be a nice little juxtaposition to use a quote from Jimi Hendrix’s first hit single Hey Joe (1966) and Handel’s first published work, 12 Sonatas for recorder, Op. 1. The resulting quotes pass each other in the score like two good neighbors passing each other on the street. The work is in a single mercurial movement and celebrates a groove-based freewheeling guitar style.“ - Bryan Johanson 2004
The museum “Handel and Hendrix in London” is on Brook street in London’s Mayfair, where Mēla recorded a live version of this piece in Hendrix’s bedroom, viewable on their YouTube channel.

Brubeck/Desmond | Strange Meadowlark, Blue Rondo à la Turk, Take Five, Cassandra arr. Tarlton

This medley is a mini journey through some of the most popular pieces by the Dave Brubeck quartet taken from the multi-million selling albums Time Out (1959) and Time In (1966).
The arrangements make use of some of the idiosyncratic guitar quartet textures, in particular the rapid, fluttering arpeggios that pass between the quartet at the beginning of Strange Meadowlark and the groovy, percussive effects in Take Five and Cassandra where the guitar turns into its own jazz drum-kit in microcosm. Dave Brubeck was classically trained, and in the 1940s was a composition student of Darius Milhaud. "Milhaud was an enormously gifted classical composer and teacher who loved jazz and incorporated it into his work. My older brother Howard was his assistant and had taken all of his classes.” - Dave Brubeck 2010. Milhaud was obviously a big influence on Brubeck, so much so, he named his first son Darius.

Darius Milhaud | Brasileira arr. Robinson

Between the years 1917 and 1919 Milhaud lived in Brazil where he was influenced heavily by the rhythms and harmony of Brazilian music. He also incorporated elements of jazz and a deep understanding of classical composition to develop his own distinctive musical style. As a member of Les Six he was one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century.
Scaramouche, written in 1937 for piano duet, is one of his most famous works, also arranged by him for saxophone and piano. Scaramouche is a stock clown character of the commedia dell'arte.
The third movement, Brasileira, is a wonderfully lively, short, characterful piece, whose Brazilian rhythms are well suited to transcribe for guitar.

Egberto Gismonti/Leo Brouwer | Água e Vinho trans. Matarazzo

Água e Vinho (Water and wine) by Brazilian composer and multi instrumentalist Egberto Gismonti has become one of the most popular melodies for guitarists. Gismonti, like Milhaud is known for crossing musical boundaries, in particular those of the jazz, progressive folk rock and classical genres. He studied with the famous Nadia Boulanger in Paris, Boulanger herself being a pupil of Gabriel Fauré.
This version is seen through the ‘lens’ of Cuban composer Leo Brouwer from his Gismontiana concerto for four guitars and orchestra and has then been transcribed for quartet only by Leo Matarazzo. The title ‘Water and Wine’ alludes to the flowing nature of the melody but also to the social aspects of life, friendships, relationships and the passing of time.

Sergio Assad | Uarekena (1999)

Brazilian guitarist and composer Sergio Assad is a member of one of the most influential and celebrated guitar ensembles, the Assad Duo. Assad’s first composition teacher Esther Scilar had the reputation of being ‘the Brazilian Nadia Boulanger’. His favourite composers and influences are cited as including Gismonti, Ravel and Debussy.
Uarekena is the name and the language of an aboriginal people living in a region beween Brazil and Venezuela. When the composition was finished, Assad realized that one of the main themes in the music had an indigenous atmosphere. He then decided to name the piece Uarekena as a dedication to them and the piece has since become a dedication to all indigenous peoples.
The style of Uarekena is that of a Brazilian/jazz/classical fantasy, full of atmosphere, fluid guitaristic running scales, driving themes, luscious melodies, finishing with a percussive bravura ending!



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