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Album Review

On Spin, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet offer a completely approachable and pleasant but still intelligent and often complex program of pieces by living composers, among them several members of the group. William Kanengiser contributes "Turn to the Sea," a gorgeous and inventive tune that incorporates the tuning and retuning of the guitars as part of its melodic structure (though, inexplicably, that section of the piece is only included in the version that closes the album; the one that opens the album skips the scordatura sections). Andrew York's "Hidden Realms of Light" and "Spin" are among the program's loveliest, but its best is the misleadingly titled "Freaky Dancer." If you're expecting greasy funk, think again: imagine Steve Reich composing a flamenco tune for a music box. Elsewhere, there's a gorgeous three-part suite for guitars and marimba by York, and an even better five-part suite by Vince Mendoza titled "Solstice Poem." Though it's no less pretty than the other works featured here, it's a bit more challenging and crunchy; the section titled "Variation III," in particular, fairly bristles with tritone passages. If the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's billing as a "crossover" act has kept you from giving them a listen before, this album offers a good opportunity to overcome your prejudice and give them an honest listen. It's hard to imagine anyone being disappointed by this wonderful album.

Biography

Formed: 1980 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In addition to its recordings for Sony Classical, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ) has given recitals in many of the world's top halls and toured most of the Northern Hemisphere. Comprised of John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, and Andrew York, LAGQ released its first album, Dances From Renaissance to Nutcracker, in late 1993. The quartet spent the remainder of the '90s touring the United States and working on solo projects. It teamed with Sony Classical in 1998 for L.A.G.Q., an album...
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