The concerto R.V. 531 is Vivaldi’s only work for two celli and orchestra. In Bruno Roussel’s arrangement two guitarists play the lead cello parts, while the other two take the orchestra parts. This pairing is switched in the second movement. In the last movement, all the parts are juggled between the four players – acrobatically exchanging virtuoso lines and accompaniment parts.
Fille de Cuivre (“Copper Girl”) was inspired by the art of Jean-Louis Émond, a Québecois sculptor who works with fragments of metal welded together to form life-size human sculptures. One of these is a woman for whom the back was purposely left open, revealing the rough and unrefined welds from one side and the beautiful and perfectly polished lady on the other. The composer took this to suggest that someone can be fragile and broken from the inside, but appear perfectly immaculate on the surface. The resulting music explores the conflicting internal emotions of such a person.
Concierto Tradicionuevo pays homage to the tango of Argentina, both the traditional and the modern. Café Gardel is a nod to Carlos Gardel (1890-1935), singer and composer, and a most important protagonist in the story of the traditional tango. In the second movement, the modernized tango style of Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) becomes the sound track to a wild taxi ride through the streets of the Argentine metropolis, rich in energetic urban sounds and textures; a gentle, middle section offers a glimpse of what calm might exist amongst the hustle and bustle when the cab eventually stops at a red light…but then the light turns green and we are hurled back into the streets of Buenos Aires.
German guitarist and composer Hans Brüderl wrote Octopus for the G8 project, a guitar octet comprised of the CGQ and the Salzburger Guitarrenquartet. This happy work of music employs some jazzy sounds, a Turkish-sounding melody, pop harmonies, and bouncy rhythms throughout its various episodes. The work was so enjoyed by the CGQ players that Louis adapted it to be played on four guitars. The title is a play on words: Oct-Opus, work for eight.
Mappa Mundi portrays four of the many images found on the fourteenth century map of the world that is currently on display at Hereford Cathedral in England. According to the map’s inscriptions (written in Medieval Latin), the troglodytes lived in caves, communicated by hissing, and caught their prey by jumping. The well-known story of the Tower of Babel has been carried to the present day by the Old Testament: a united human race (represented by the guitars) aspires to build a tower to heaven; God (represented by the cello) intervenes and confuses their tongues (the results of which can be heard in the guitar parts at the end). The Hyperboreans enjoy a carefree, idyllic lifestyle for as long as they please, and throw themselves into the sea when they are tired of living (as portrayed by the cello glissando near the end). Finally, the Hippopodes were a race of human-like creatures with horses’ feet.