On Sunday afternoon, Jan. 30, in Tiedtke Hall at Rollins College, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet played in an exhibition of guitar mastery that one rarely hears.
Just plain “good” guitar playing doesn’t have a chance once you have experienced the excellence of those who know how to turn four guitars into a whole orchestra of varied sounds.
Opening with Johann Sebastian Bach’s excerpts from Orchestral Suite No. 3, this well-oiled guitar-machine delivered what this commentator deemed to be the musical acme of the afternoon.
My memories were brought back to magical concerts in Town Hall New York after World War II when I heard Bach played as an innovation by the great Spanish guitar-master Andres Segovia. Since then, Bach’s music has found a congenial home in the repertoire of most great guitarists.
The program included perhaps an unbalanced emphasis on the Brazilian compositions of Heitor Villa-Lobos, the highlight of which was the Suite Floral, a piece in three sections written in 1910.
Ronaldo Miranda, a contemporary Brazilian composer, contributed Serious Variations on a theme by Ancleto de Medeiros, music with a pleasing modicum of melody, which one could take as “seriously” as he wished. Thematic interchange was wondrously seamless between the four players.
The Quartet closed with great Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz’s Iberia Suite, from which the Rollins audience was treated to four well-chosen, energetic excerpts.
Tiedtke Hall at Rollins is an ideal theater for music of soloists and small ensemble. It’s acoustics respond happily to the sounds of bright instruments and facilitate the dynamic changes that only a good hall can provide.