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David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2020

Four composers born in the second-half of the Twentieth century share this disc of Australian Guitar Quartets performed by the nation’s pre-eminent guitar ensemble.

Stylistically it is aimed at a mainstream classical music audience, the composers essentially working in the world of tonality, and, as with Nigel Westlake’s Six Fish, they are musical pictures. Ever heard of the Guitarfish? Westlake hadn’t until he embarked on these portraits. Well, it exists, and is a member of the ray family that looks like the instrument. The work also created a rather vicious picture of the Sling-Jaw Wrasse and an opportunity to display the corporate virtuosity of Guitar Trek. The Flying Fish, that concludes the work, is the very colourful visitor you will see on the east coast of Australia. More realisations of outdoors in the short Five Tails in Cold Blood, Richard Charlton’s Eighth Guitar Quartet. Four are cold blooded animals—lizards—and the fifth a fish. Here we enter the world of ‘laid-back’ jazz with its blues influences in a World Premiere Recording. Philip Houghton was taken from us all too soon, his descriptive cameo pieces open with a seductively beautiful Nocturne, before he pictures the three colours of Australian opals that seem to change as they reflect things around them, as my wife never tires of showing me. News from Nowhere takes its name from a book by William Morris, the news more abstract than tangible and here uses other musical ‘effects’ than the resources of Guitar Trek, Wave Radiance taking us back into the creatures of the sea. Finally Elena Kats-Chernin connects the sounds of guitars with harpsichords of the Baroque era. Punchy sound and cleanly defined recording in a well-filled disc. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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