Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet (QGQ) is acclaimed as one of the world’s top guitar ensembles. Composed of Brazilian guitarists Chrystian Dozza, Fabio Ramazzina, Thiago Abdalla, and Sidney Molina, QGQ is recognized for its artistic excellence and for its significant contributions to the expansion of guitar quartet repertoire. Over the past twenty-five years, the group has established a wide canon of original pieces and ambitious arrangements through collaboration with composers like Leo Brouwer, Almeida Prado, Egberto Gismonti, Sergio Molina, Javier Farías and Paulo Bellinati.
The quartet first attracted the attention of international criticism when it was awarded the “Ensemble Prize” at the Havana International Guitar Contest in 1998. Since then, the group has regularly performed in various notable guitar and chamber series in the United States and the world. Following the group’s California debut, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “an aura of purity pervaded the concert of the Brazilian guitar quartet…[it] met all the requirements with equanimity and intelligence.”
Quaternaglia’s discography includes the albums Quaternaglia (1995), Antique (1996), Forrobodó (2000), Presença (2004), Estampas (2010), Jequibau (2012), Xangô (2015), as well as Quaternaglia (2006), a DVD recorded live.
The quartet has performed in fifteen American states including Arizona, California, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Mississippi, and Texas, in countries like Portugal, Spain, Australia, Cuba, Uruguay, and Argentina, and in seventeen Brazilian states. Quaternaglia has also conducted Master Classes and lectures at various institutions including Yale University, the Jacobs School of Music (Indiana University at Bloomington), and the Coimbra Conservatory.
Besides recording twenty-five original pieces among the nearly fifty dedicated to the quartet, Quaternaglia is especially well-known for its interpretations of Villa-Lobos and Leo Brouwer, as well as for renditions of Renaissance and Spanish music.
Based in São Paulo, Brazil, the musicians of Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet use four custom-made guitars by renowned Brazilian guitar maker Sergio Abreu.
by Fabio Zanon
Images / Audio: Eduardo Sardinha Edition: Thiago Abdalla Sound: Ricardo Marui Interviewer: Fabio Zanon Translator: David Molina Soundtrack: Four for Tango – Astor Piazzolla Location: MAC – Ibirapuera Date: Sep 16th 2017
New Music for Guitar
Así era la Dancita Aquella! (Divertimento) | Leo Brouwer
Así era la dancita aquella! (Divertimento) – 2018
Dedicated to Quaternaria Guitar Quartet
Composer: Leo Brouwer
1. Así era la Dancita Aquella! (Divertimento) (2018) 6:24 Dedicated to Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet / first recording
LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
SYMPHONIC DANCES FROM WEST SIDE STORY (1961) Arrangement by Thiago Tavares
2- Prologue (Allegro moderato) 4:33 3- Somewhere (Adagio) 3:45 4- Scherzo (Vivace e leggiero) 1:20 5- Mambo (Meno presto) 2:29 6- Cha-cha (Andantino con grazia) 1:09 7- Meeting Scene (Meno mosso) 0:42 8- Cool Fugue (Allegretto) 4:12 9- Rumble (Molto allegro) 1:55 10- Final (Adagio) 2:35
ASTOR PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
11- FOUR FOR TANGO (1988) 7:01 Arrangement by Fabio Ramazzina
JAVIER FARÍAS (1973)
MEMORIAL PARA UN REGRESO (2017)
Dedicated to Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet / first recording
12- Brava mar 4:26 13- España en el corazón 5:03
14- Exilio 4:59 Total time: 50:33
Four composers, four works, four guitars: Four, Quaternaglia’s first album for GuitarCoop, is the result of a vast renewal in the quartet’s repertoire following the group’s 25th anniversary, in 2017. Since Forrobodó (2000), Quaternaglia had never failed to record works by Brazilian composers; in fact, the opposite is true: all four of the group’s most recent albums were dedicated entirely to the music of its homeland. This profound dive into Brazilian culture is reflected in the group’s discography: a total of 25 new recordings of works by Estércio Marquez Cunha, Lina Pires de Campos, Paulo Bellinati, Egberto Gismonti, Sergio Molina, Paulo Tiné, Rodrigo Vitta, Douglas Lora, Radamés Gnatalli, Marco Pereira, Almeida Prado, João Luiz and Chrystian Dozza, as well as arrangements of works by Villa-Lobos, Ronaldo Miranda, Ernesto Nazareth and Tom Jobim.
The absence of Brazil in the present album, thus, is intentional. In the moment of writing, the country itself is experiencing a very delicate reevaluation of its origin and destiny, and to dwell on the sonorities that emerge from all three Americas is also an attempt to understand both the present and the paths that stand before us in the coming years. Born in the United States, Cuba, Chile, and Argentina, Leonard Bernstein, Leo Brouwer, Javier Farías, and Astor Piazzolla – the composers featured in this album – are citizens of the world, figures that transcend regional frontiers.
To premiere and record a new work by Leo Brouwer – one of the most important guitar composers of all time – is an extraordinary honor. Commissioned by Quaternaglia, Así era la dancita aquella! (divertimento) was dedicated “con gran afeto, al Quarteto Quaternaglia” in April of 2018. We transcribe and translate Brouwer’s comments on the piece and its curious title:
“For the Leo Brouwer Chamber Music Festival, I adapted a Cuban dance that was a part of my Trio (titled Sones y Danzones) by making parts for second cello and flute. The goal was to allow two excellent soloists to have fun with the Brouwer Trio of Valencia, Spain. In one of the rehearsals, I tried to remember the title of a contradanza by Manuel Saumell (19th century) that inspired one of the movements of my Trio: “What was the name of that little dance, again?…” and one of the musicians responded, gracefully: “Little dance?” Haha…!” Thus was born the title of the divertimento written for Quaternaglia, in which I develop similar rhythmic formants. Some rhythmic cells are common to the music of our America, distilled as ever by the legacy of the Africans who were brought to these lands.” (Leo Brouwer, 2018)
The work brings together characteristic elements from all of Brouwer’s creative periods, from the homophonic clusters built upon syncopated rhythmic cells to free modal polyphony; from Afro-Cuban melodic fragments to the “quadriphonic” spacialization that renders the four guitars into a harp, enormous and fantastic. The work was premiered by Quaternaglia at the Vermelhos Festival in Ilhabela (Brazil) on August 4th, 2018.
Also dedicated to Quaternaglia, Memorial para un regreso (2017) written by Chilean composer Javier Farías is a suite in three movements conceived as a homage to the poet Pablo Neruda (1904-73). It is the last work in the cycle “Seis Miradas por Latinoamérica”, in which Farías pays homage to each of the six Latin-American recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature. In the words of the composer:
“I have included [in the work] three aspects of Neruda’s life that prove themselves to be central features of his poetry. The sea (first movement), the fight for human rights (second movement), and exile (third movement).” (Javier Farías, 2017)
“Brava Mar”, thus, evokes the Chilean seas of Isla Negra and Valparaíso, where the poet lived; “España en el Corazón” is the title of a cycle of poems written by Neruda in 1937, after he had witnessed the horrors of the Spanish Civil War; and “Exilio” echoes the political persecution suffered by the poet in the 1940s. The suite was premiered by Quaternaglia at the auditorium of Sesc Vila Mariana, in São Paulo, on July 29th, 2017, and the work was subsequently recorded in video for GuitarCoop’s series “New Music for Guitar”.
To transcribe the Symphonic Dances of West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein for guitar quartet – a suite for orchestra based on the themes of the 1957 eponymous musical – is a task that demands both mastery of orchestral complexities and knowledge of the idiomatic subtleties of the guitar. Conductor Thiago Tavares, author of a widely-praised transcription of Bachianas Brasileiras n. 9 by Villa-Lobos for Quaternaglia (recorded in the album Xangô) decided to take on the challenge. The work features the most important themes of the musical, including the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, the virtuosic mambo, the jazz-fugue inspired by Beethoven’s Große Fugue op. 133 as well as the tragic finale of the love story between Tony and Maria.
Finishing the album, Four for Tango (1988) – originally written for string quartet – is Quaternaglia’s first foray into the work of Astor Piazzolla. Written for the Kronos Quartet, it thrives not only on a montage effect reminiscent of film soundtracks, but on a violent percussivity that is even more accentuated in the transcription signed by Quaternaglia member Fabio Ramazzina.