Precision, balance, tone. The Grammy Award-winning Brazilian Guitar Quartet are regarded as one of the world's leading guitar ensembles, presenting virtuosic performances of their own unique arrangements of music from Villa-Lobos to Bach. Their combination of six- and eight-string guitars brings a unique colour and dynamism to their sparkling performances.
Winner of the 2011 Latin Grammy Award in the “best classical album” category, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet has established itself as one of world’s leading guitar ensembles. Praised by the Washington Post for its “seductive beauty” and “virtuosic gusto,” the group’s unique combination, of regular six-string and extended-range, eight-string guitars, allows for the exploration of an original and unusual repertoire. In their more than ten years of activity, the BGQ has performed over 250 concerts in the Americas, Europe and Asia, often receiving ecstatic audience responses, garnering rave reviews, and meeting sold-out halls.
Highlights of the BGQ’s past seasons include performances at the 92 Street ‘Y’ and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Vancouver Playhouse, Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Dumbarton Concerts and National Gallery in Washington, D.C., Chamber Music Albuquerque, Beethovensaal in Hanover, Wortham Theather in Houston and Libby Gardner Hall in Salt Lake City, as well as at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Felicja Blumental Festival in Tel Aviv, Colorado Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, Carmel Bach Festival and some of the major guitar festivals in the U.S., Brazil, Australia, Denmark, Scotland, Mexico, Portugal and Germany.
In 2004, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet were “headliners” at the inaugural World Guitar Congress in Baltimore where, together with the Baltimore Symphony, they gave the world premiere of a specially-commissioned concerto by Brazil’s 2001 “Composer of the Year,” Ronaldo Miranda. In 2009, the Quartet performed the Suite Iberia by Isaac Albéniz in a Brazilian tour that included the major capitals of that country, sponsored by Instituto Cervantes in honor of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death.
The BGQ’s discography includes five CDs for Delos. Three of them are devoted to Brazilian Music: Essência do Brasil (1999), Encantamento (2001) and the quartet’s latest release, the Latin Grammy winner Brazilian Guitar Quartet plays Villa-Lobos (2011). The other two recordings present, in their entirety, two great works of Western classical music, Bach’s Four Orchestral Suites (2000) and Albéniz’s Suite Iberia (2006).
All photos by Suzane Madeiros Vianna
"Another superb recording by one of the world’s finest guitar quartets... This music, these performances, just make one feel good, bathing in beauty."
Kenneth Keaton, American Record Guide
"A world-class degree of precision, near-perfect balance and sensitive musicality…"
Los Angeles Times
"Everything came together beautifully: the ensemble was tight, the contrapuntal interplay was crisp, and the closing Badinerie was as lively as one could want. The quartet played… engagingly and with a virtuosic flair."
The New York Times
"The Brazilian Guitar Quartet is a unique musical group… What does it sound like? In a word, it is magnificent. In this recording they take on Albéniz’ masterpiece Iberia. The extra pitch ranges at the bottom and top mean there is no compromise because of crowding the music into the available octaves of the standard guitar, and the tone colors, of which pianists can only dream, can be exploited with beautiful effect… The quartet members are effortlessly virtuosic on their parts, preternaturally unified, have gorgeous arrangements of the score, and deliver an outstanding interpretation… It must suffice to say that each of the twelve movements has never sounded better to this listener."
"If a single word could sum up the Brazilian Guitar Quartet’s concert… it would be “exquisite”. But even that superlative doesn’t begin to express the superb subtlety of the Brazilian ensemble… The Bach overture was a marvel of shimmering, airy structure in the quartet’s hands… [After this] it seemed impossible for the quartet to surpass-or even match-itself. But it did, magnificently and more muscularly, in Heitor Villa-Lobos’s soaring Bachianas Brasileiras No.1… The quartet shifted seamlessly from notes that evoked shadowy exoticism to passages that captured the pulse of the Latin civilization, dancing in sunshine… Camargo Guarnieri’s colorful Quarteto No.2 showcased the quartet’s remarkable ability to blend their strings into a single, passionate voice… Two quicksilver works by Francisco Mignone… explored new aspects of the absolutely atmospheric world of the Brazilian quartet and underlined their essential brilliance… the audience wouldn’t let them go; standing ovations brought them back to the stage for two encores."
Daytona Beach News Journal
"The BGQ could not have made a more powerful case for the guitar as an ensemble instrument… stunning playing… [The Villa-Lobos] was brilliantly done… All the little interpretative touches… made something special of [the two Albeniz pieces]; that tiny chord at the end of the first, for instance, perfectly timed and deliciously delivered… [the three pieces Mignone pieces were] full of vigour and breathtaking ensemble work. Three sparkling encores ended a concert that must have left the festival’s director Allan Neave reassured that the considerable outlay in bringing this extraordinary group across the Atlantic was fully justified."
"At last, a 100% Brazilian product emerges from the beaten path!… The quartet gives free rein to its virtuosity [in the Gomes]… the [Villa-Lobos] transcription is ingenious: the voices are distributed within a wide scope that preserves the work’s dynamism and even fire… the ensemble is impressive in the lightness and precision of its tutti, in its attacks and silences… this undertaking is all the more worthy because it will not fail to inspire listeners to quench their curiosity and expand their collection of composers still under-recognized in our latitudes."
Les Cahiers de la Guitare et de la Musique
"This talented group produced heartwarming, stylish and acutely empathetic interpretations of their Brazilian musical heritage"
"The Brazilians played with one mind, without losing the central pulse, and conveyed all the mystery, joy, passion and pride in this music… this was magical music making."
Palm Beach Daily News
"They play together like a dream… an evening of nonstop virtuosity"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Confident masters of technique, the members of the Brazilian Guitar Quartet showed they are also brilliant musicians"
"If J.S. Bach could have heard the Brazilian Guitar Quartet Thursday evening, he no doubt would have approved… ringing tone, balance and superb technique…bright and rhythmic… each player brought a uniqueness to the sound, which made for a fascinating performance as the differences melded into one"
Palm Beach Daily News
"The Brazilian Guitar Quartet had a similarly warmly rounded tone and interpretative refinement. This group takes ensemble guitar playing to an extremely high level. Their sound is delectable, at times like pealing bells or angelic harps. With rolling textures and a pliant, breathing approach to melody, their performance of Bachianas Brasilas No. 1 by Villa-Lobos was luscious."
The Brazilian Guitar Quartet plays Villa-Lobos
Winner 'Best Classical Album', Latin Grammys 2011
This is BGQ’s first CD entirely devoted to Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), represented here by some of his masterworks arranged for guitar quartet. Get to know the multiple profiles of the composer who was responsible for combining classical, folk and popular Brazilian music in a single personal and distinctive style, summed up in his famous declaration “I am folklore!”.
Delos DE 3409
Isaac Albeniz: Suite Iberia
BGQ’s fourth CD presents Isaac Albéniz masterpiece “Suite Iberia”, for the first time arranged for guitar quartet. The work captures the sounds, landscapes and traditions of Spain, most notably of Andalusia – the birthplace of the flamenco culture – offering the listener a musical voyage through some of this country’s rich cultural heritage. This vibrant arrangement preserves the work’s essence, while giving it a whole new perspective through the voice of the guitar, Spain’s national instrument.
Delos DE 3364
In this, our third CD for Delos Records, the BGQ once again explores the little-known world of Brazilian classical music through transcriptions of works by some of its most representative composers. Aside from revisiting the output of Francisco Mignone and Camargo Guarnieri, included in our former CD Essência do Brasil, we have recorded on this CD works by the Romantic composer Henrique Oswald as well as Cláudio Santoro and Ronaldo Miranda, the two major successors to the three great 20th century Brazilian nationalist composers, Villa-Lobos, Mignone, and Camargo Guarnieri.
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Bach - Four Suites for Orchestra
Bach’s Orchestral Suites on four guitars! Bach, the master music-maker of all time composed these suites for diverse instrumental combinations with movements varying in character and based on popular dance rhythms of the day. Featuring the concert and radio favorite “Air on the G String,” these suites move the listener from the treasured score to the astonishing artistry of these arrangements.
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Essencia do Brasil
In this recording, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet has selected works by four of the most important composers from Brazil’s musical history: Antônio Carlos Gomes, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Francisco Mignone e Camargo Guarnieri, presented for the first time in arrangements for guitar quartet by Sérgio Abreu, Paul Galbraith, Edelton Gloeden and the Brazilian Guitar Quartet. These arrangements reveal a little-known side of Brazil’s musical universe.
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