Jan 20, 2017 - Canadian Guitar Quartet
Julien Bisaillon, Renaud Côté-Giguère, Bruno Roussel, Louis Trépanier
With the John Avison Chamber Orchestra
EB: Are 4 guitars in an ensemble similar to a string quartet? What are the roles of each instrument in this particular ensemble? or all guitars treated equally?
CGQ: By nature of the instruments in a string quartet, the players are given specific roles and will develop a speciality in that role; even among the two violinists, there is a defined role between the them. Based on that example, many guitar quartets (both the ensemble and the pieces themselves) are organized in more or less strict SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) registers and will tend to stay there during a whole piece. It was always the CGQ’s intent to mix things up more. Since we all play an instrument with the exact same range, the only reason to stick to specific roles is if the players enjoy that sort of relationship. In our case, we like the exchanges of lead and accompaniments parts within a concert, or even within moments of a piece. It’s something we enjoy and we hope the audience equally extracts some enjoyment from watching the juggling.
EB: You have a very unique repertoire that includes much Spanish music. Why is that when we think of Spanish music we often associate it to the guitar?
CGQ: Like music of the classical era had a focal point from which it radiated, that is Vienna, the modern classical guitar’s tradition comes from Spain. Going back to the early 1800’s, the six-string classical guitar of the era had many fine players from Spain, Italy, and England, as well as France, Russia, and various areas of today’s Eastern Europe. However it would be in Spain that the traditions seemed to hold together the strongest and a new generation of makers, players, and composers would create the modern instrument, its technique and its literature in the early 1900’s. From this time, the classical guitar took on a Spanish identity. Some people today still use the name ‘Spanish Guitar’ to mean classical guitar.
EB: Can you talk a little about your own arrangements- who does the arranging? How do you chose the repertoire to arrange?
CGQ: Right now we are playing arrangements that were made by Bruno Roussel, or myself. But all four members work on arrangements as inspiration strikes. From going to concerts, or just listening to the radio, we will come across works that might be great on four guitars…we take up the task much as a composer gets inspiration. The guitar quartet is still a young ensemble and doesn’t have anything like a core repertoire (though things are getting better all the time). Therefore arrangements are quite important still – and they are fun! While all this Spanish tradition on the guitar was getting underway, the composers who were leading classical music in new direction in Europe were not taking head of the guitar, even though it was often around them. Beethoven didn’t write for guitar, though we know he was at least a bit acquainted with Mauro Giuliani, who was one of the greatest guitarist of that age, living and working in Vienna alongside the Maestro. So it comes naturally to guitarists to make transcriptions. In this way, we get to play works by Beethoven, Vivaldi, Saint-Saëns, Rossini. The four-guitar ensemble works quite well to accommodate the various sounds and textures of orchestral music.
EB: Any specific things you would like the audience to know about the programme?
CGQ: Our regular concert program on this tour features a mix of masterworks by some big names in the classical world (as mentioned above: Beethoven, Vivaldi, Saint-Säens, Rossini) and new works composed specifically for the CGQ by Canadian composers; on this tour we will be featuring works by current CGQ member Renaud Côté-Giguère, and former CGQ member Patrick Roux; the former is an beautiful exploration of sometimes conflicting inner emotions (come see the shows to find out more), the latter tells the story of a wild taxi ride through the street of the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires. In White Rock, not only will we be presenting some of the gems we have for the rest of the tour, but we will perform Rodrigo’s great work for four guitars and orchestra, the Concierto Andaluz – and White Rock will be the only stop on this tour to feature this great piece of Spanish flavour.