By Mike Telin
Launched more than thirty years ago, the Grammy Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ) plays everything from Bach to Bluegrass. But for their visit to the International Series of the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society, John Darman, Matthew Greif, William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant will concentrate on early Spanish music before moving on to modern pieces and Kanengiser's arrangement of Manuel de Falla's “El Amor Brujo.” The concert takes place on Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights.
Today, March 17, marks the official release date of LAGQ’s latest CD, New Renaissance, most of which will be presented on Saturdays concert. LAGQ’s program will begin with a section titled Music from the Time of Cervantes. “The idea for the album stemmed from a project we did a few years ago with John Cleese of Monty Python fame,” LAGQ founding member William Kanengiser explained during a telephone conversation. “We met John at a concert we did in Santa Barbara, and he wanted to go to dinner with us. We were start-struck.
“At the end of the dinner he said that we should work together. We of course said OK, but then we had to decide what were we going to do. I had embarked on a year-and-a-half project based around Don Quixote, first adapting the novel into a three-act play, and then I arranged music to accompany the narration, which I called ‘Music from the Time of Cervantes’ because Cervantes could have heard most of these pieces during the Spanish Renaissance. We performed it with Cleese and then toured it with Bill Proctor from Firesign Theater.”
LAGQ began performing some of the music from the show on their recitals without narration, and had great responses from the audience. This prompted Kanengiser to create a sixteen-movement suite of his favorite pieces from the project. “On Saturday I’ll set up each movement in the style that John Cleese and Bill Proctor did with a very brief sentence or two to try to make it more of a dramatic storytelling.”
The recording project took another step forward when the quartet received a new work by Ian Krause. “He’s one of our longtime friends. I met him at USC back in 1977. He was a senior and I was a freshman, Kanengiser recalled. “He’s gone on to become one of the most important composers for the guitar, and specifically the guitar quartet.” Krause’s piece, Music in Four Sharps, is based on John Dowland’s Frog Galliard. Kanengiser described it as a contemporary passacaglia. “Both of the pieces went well together. The Cervantes is Renaissance music in a new way and Ian’s is new music based on Renaissance music.”
Read the entire article at ClevelandClassical.com.