Buenos Aires Guitar Quartet
• Four Works of Michael Praetorius Cuarteto de Guitarras de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Guitar Quartet)
The Buenos Aires Guitar Quartet performs four works by German composer Michael Praetorius (1571-1621): “Brans de la torche,” “Ballet de coqs,” “Courante,” and “Gallarde.”
THE BUENOS AIRES GUITAR QUARTET was founded by Andrea Rivara, Manuel Asenzo, Ignacio Delagnes and Nicolás Rigano. The main goal of these artists was to promote the classical guitar through the performance of diverse works of music ranging from the Renaissance to twentieth century. The Quartet’s repertoire incompasses works by Michael Praetorius, J. S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Ástor Piazzolla, Hilda Herrera, and Jorge Martínez Zárate, among others, as well as tango works and national folkloric music of Argentina.
To learn more about the Quartet’s approach to music, we conducted a brief email exchange.
CLASSICAL TV: What led you to choose the Praetorius works to perform? What kind of transcription, if any, was required?
BUENOS AIRES GUITAR QUARTET: The 2011 concert program, which included the Praetorius, was based on doing a tour through the history of music, starting with the Renaissance period, then the Baroque, romanticism, Spanish nationalism, and 20th century Argentinean composers. When we started the research of the Renaissance period, we found works that could be played, because of the registry they use, on four lauds [Spanish folk citterns]. I say “could” because in that period the works were not written for a specific instrument. These arrangements were provided by the Martinez Zárate quartet, from which we are disciples of.
Regarding the transcriptions they were made for four guitars, two standard tuned (“E”), one high (“A”) and one bass (“B”). This is the registry of the quartet, which allows extending the repertory to orchestral type plays.
CTV: You do such varied repertoire! Does the Quartet choose repertoire collectively?
BAGQ: The group discuss the theme that will be developed in the schedule of the concert for that year. With this decision made, each member comes up with arrangements to modify-- we do it and we test them.
We try in each concert to use styles that are varied. We do a little introduction of what will be played, so that the audience can be placed in time and space, because we believe this way is the best to appreciate the work and the performance.
CTV: How would you describe the special or unique qualities of a guitar quartet— sonic, textural, etc.? Are there any repertoire choices that would not work for the ensemble?
BAGQ: Our approach is to explore the subtleties of the music-- in each period, in each style, in each composer. To do this we research each particular work before putting it into performance, which is useful for us in shaping the work, putting it into context. The score is only a map.
There have been a lot of works that we were not able to adapt to our quartet because of the instrumental resources-- for example, works in which there are a lot of held notes, which bowed string instruments can do but guitars can´t. The string is struck and not bowed.
We try to function as a solid, ensemble unit and not just as four soloists. To do this we believe in the necessity of communication among the members, musically speaking. Everyone has to know what the other is playing.