The French guitar quartet Quatuor Eclisses (Gabriel Bianco, Arkaïtz Chambonnet, Pierre Lelièvre, and Benjamin Valette) has been around since 2012, building a solid reputation as a highly skilled and adventurous group that specializes in arranging piano and orchestral pieces for the group. In 2017 I reviewed their Pulse album, which beautifully showed their range, and I’ve been hungry for more!
Well, earlier this year they put out their fourth release, Evocación on the Ad Vitam label, and once again it is triumph that really showcases the power of what a guitar quartet can do. This time out, they offer a program of Spanish music, so we find them interpreting two pieces by Albéniz—a remarkably tasteful, interesting, even spare version of Asturias, plus Iberia: El Corpus Christi en Sevilla); Torroba—a wonderfully arranged Rafagas; Manuel de Falla—the suddenly ubiquitous but always intriguing Homenaje pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy and the finale to Le Tricorne (The Three-Cornered Hat); two of Mompopu’s Chansons et danses (Nos. 8 and 11); and two Spanish-style works by non-Spaniards—Debussy’s La soirèe dans Grenade (from his Estampes), and Luigi Boccherini’s always-popular Grave assai et fandango from his Quintette pour cordes et guitare no. 4. It’s a terrific, nicely recorded collection from beginning to end; highly recommended!
Our video selection is from the aforementioned Three-Cornered Hat ballet that Falla scored in in 1918 and 1919 (when it opened) at the behest of the noted early 20th century dance impresario Sergei Diaghilev. It was choreographed by Léonide Massine, with set and costume design by none other than Pablo Picasso. This piece is the finale of ballet, a jota. —Blair Jackson