- Iberia Suite, for piano, B. 47
The Brazilian Guitar Quartet, the quartet that uses eight-string guitars as well as six-string ones, the group that took it upon itself to tackle Bach's "Orchestral Suites" with acclaimed results, here takes on Isaac Albéniz's "Iberia," with equal success. Albéniz's large, 12-movement suite is essentially a set of tone poems depicting different areas of Spain, which takes full advantage of the piano's sonorities to give each movement those blushed and blurred colors associated with impressionistic music. And it also employs those distinctive Spanish dance rhythms, which are native to the guitar rather than the piano. Therefore it makes sense that "Iberia" would be transcribed for guitar, and several guitar duos have done a movement or two. But it takes a quartet of guitars to get the full effect of the suite, and the two eight-string guitars played by Everton Gloeden and Luiz Mantovani allow the quartet to fully cover the range of the piano. Some of that impressionistic wash of color is lost because there isn't a good equivalent to the piano's sostenuto pedal, but it isn't that noticeablebecause the music so suits the ensemble. Plus the sensitivity of the quartet's playing is excellent, from the glowing thoughtfulness of the "Evocacíon" to the accentuated yet elegant dance of "Málaga" and the fragile curlicues of "Jerez." The recording picks up all the details of the different guitarists' sound, but there is still a greater sense of the ensemble as a whole rather than individual performers. This version of "Iberia" is as warm and transcendentally evocative as Albéniz could have wished for.