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Tall Poppies

 

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 TP (1-900)

TP221

Six Fish

Guitar Trek celebrating 25 years

$23   (Australian dollars)

     

buy at: AMC - Buywell - iTunes

cover
Guitar Trek started out in 1987 and broke new ground for the guitar, with their special “family” of standard guitars by Greg Smallman, treble guitars by Eugene Philp and Greg Smallman, and baritone and bass guitars by Graham Caldersmith. Having the range of instruments gives wonderful sonic possibilities. Since the beginning Guitar Trek has not only commissioned Australian luthiers to make these instruments but also commissioned and performed new works by Australian composers.

This CD presents works by four composers who have featured in many of their concert programmes. Most works are receiving their world premiere recording on this CD.

The production of this CD has been sponsored by the family of Edda Filson.
CONTENTS

Nigel Westlake
Six Fish
Phillip HoughtonNocturne
Richard CharltonCapricorn Skies
Phillip HoughtonRichard Charlton
Martin Wesley-SmithSongs and Marches
Richard CharltonDreams and Dances on Moreton Bay

REVIEWS

The quartet Guitar Trek describes itself as a "family", not only because its members Tim Kain, Minh Le Hong, Daniel McKay and Harold Gretton have been playing together for so long but also because they have pioneered and promoted a wider role for the less celebrated siblings of the classical instrument - the treble, baritone and bass guitars.

Now they are celebrating their 25th anniversary with an album of works by contemporary Australian composers - some of them guitarists themselves.

Six Fish, on the Tall Poppies label, takes its title from the opening work by Nigel Westlake - six charming portraits of Australian sea creatures. Westlake is a clarinettist, but he knows a lot about the guitar, having worked with the great John Williams with his band Attacca.

The use of Dobro steel slide guitar lends a menacing and driving character to depict the sling-jawed wrasse whose mouth can stretch half its body length to catch its prey. The sunfish floats lazily on the surface catching a tan while the joy of flight - or at least gliding - is evoked with the final piece Flying Fish, which Westlake himself sees a good omen when he spots them on the east coast.

The work was originally commissioned by the Saffire quartet, which features two of Australia's top performers Slava Grigoryan and Karin Schaupp, but this Guitar Trek version includes the Dobro and 12-string guitars which Westlake originally envisaged for the piece.

Equally impressive is Richard Charlton's Capricorn Skies, a work in five movements originally commissioned by Guitar Trek in 1996. Charlton, as well as being one of our most respected contemporary composers, is a guitarist and this work exploits the instrument's versatility from the ominous Ashen Sky With Darkened Sun - a reference to the Sydney bushfires - to the melodious serenity of A Sky For Dreaming.

Phillip Houghton's Nocturne started life as a piano piece so when he rearranged it for the quartet in 2004 he wasn't sure if it would work. He need not have worried, as this is a little gem from the self-taught composer who draws inspiration from the environment around him.

Martin Wesley-Smith, on the other hand, is a more political animal and he weaves a 12th century Andalusian oud tune around snatches of anthems from George W Bush's "Coalition of the Willing" for his 2004 Guitar Trek commission Songs and Marches. Hitler Youth tunes vie with The Star Spangled Banner, God Save the Queen and Advance Australia Fair in a work that is more a 15-minute satirical tilt than a polemic. Either way it's a tour de force of constantly shifting moods and styles.

The album ends on a tuneful and folky note with Charlton's variations on the famous Queensland ballad Moreton Bay.

This is a splendid recording marking the rich and varied work of this Canberra-based ensemble.
Readings review
www.readings.com.au


Six Fish from the Australian guitar quartet Guitar Trek is a completely original, fresh and compelling album. It's on the Tall Poppies record label (also Aussie), coming to us from out of left field (which is our decidedly preferred field here at Expedition Audio).

Celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year, Guitar Trek has dramatically expanded the possibilities of the traditional guitar quartet. They have done this from the beginning with their pioneering guitar family project, which saw the creation of a set of instruments somewhat analogous to the family of classical string instruments comprised of the violin, viola, cello and double bass. In addition to the standard classical guitar, Guitar Trek performs on treble, baritone and bass guitars - all acoustic instruments. They also make use of nylon or metal strings, 12-string instruments and the resonator guitar which is commonly associated with blues and bluegrass. The resulting, already rich palate of possibilities is further expanded by colorful techniques borrowed from flamenco and other guitar performance including string bending, sliding and rasping, and a variety of percussive sounds created by thumping and knocking the bodies of their instruments (if there are some guitarists out there who can correct the terms I've applied here, please leave a comment - for now, I'll have to call it "thumping").

The album takes its name from the set of short pieces, Six Fish by Nigel Westlake which endeavors to evoke in sound, qualities of six aquatic animals. Westlake is Australian, as are all of the composers represented here. The four musicians who make up Guitar Trek are Timothy Kain, Minh Le Hoang, Daniel McKay and Harold Gretton. Give a listen to our sample tracks. This is very interesting, often beautiful and powerful music. It's an absolute must for any player or fan of the acoustic guitar.
Paul Ballyk April 10, 2013
www.expeditionaudio.com/


What a journey it's been. Since 1987, Australian classical group Guitar Trek has been at the forefront of commissioning new works for guitar quartet, as well as working with luthiers to develop different-size guitars to form a true guitar family: treble, standard, baritone and bass (steel as well as nylon string guitars are utilised).

This recording, actually made in 2007, has been released to celebrate 25 years of Guitar Trek and features works by some of Australia's best-known composers for the instrument:Nigel Westlake, Phillip Houghton, Richard Charlton and Martin Wesley-Smith. The Guitar Trek line-up here features Timothy Kain, Minh Le Hoang, Daniel McKay andHarold Gretton (it's since changed, with Bradley Kunda and Matt Withers replacing McKay and Gretton).

If Westlake's Six Fish scintillates with shimmering water, pointillistic textures and playful melodies, Houghton's Nocturne, originally for piano, is a study in meditative if occasionally ruffled calm and moonlit passages.

Charlton's Capricorn Skies is "an attempt to capture in sound the mood or resonance of a variety of Australian skies and landscapes". It's a tour-de-force of sound-painting that finds Guitar Trek at its most dramatically expansive. The following non-linear Wave Radiance by Houghton, who describes it as a "sonic event" with no melody to speak of, is equally eloquent in its exploration of exterior and interior space.

By contrast, Wesley-Smith's multi-faceted political satire Songs and Marches is very much stamped with human concerns, tongue very firmly in cheek, while the final work, Charlton's Dreams and Dances on Moreton Bay, a set of variations on the Queensland folksong of the same name, is one of the most moving. It receives a heartfelt performance from this wonderful guitar quartet.
Will Yeoman Limelight January 2013


The quartet Guitar Trek describes itself as a "family", not only because its members Tim Kain, Minh Le Hong, Daniel McKay and Harold Gretton have been playing together for so long but also because they have pioneered and promoted a wider role for the less celebrated siblings of the classical instrument - the treble, baritone and bass guitars.

Now they are celebrating their 25th anniversary with an album of works by contemporary Australian composers - some of them guitarists themselves.

Six Fish, on the Tall Poppies label, takes its title from the opening work by Nigel Westlake - six charming portraits of Australian sea creatures. Westlake is a clarinettist, but he knows a lot about the guitar, having worked with the great John Williams with his band Attacca.

The use of Dobro steel slide guitar lends a menacing and driving character to depict the sling-jawed wrasse whose mouth can stretch half its body length to catch its prey. The sunfish floats lazily on the surface catching a tan while the joy of flight - or at least gliding - is evoked with the final piece Flying Fish, which Westlake himself sees a good omen when he spots them on the east coast.

The work was originally commissioned by the Saffire quartet, which features two of Australia's top performers Slava Grigoryan and Karin Schaupp, but this Guitar Trek version includes the Dobro and 12-string guitars which Westlake originally envisaged for the piece.

Equally impressive is Richard Charlton's Capricorn Skies, a work in five movements originally commissioned by Guitar Trek in 1996. Charlton, as well as being one of our most respected contemporary composers, is a guitarist and this work exploits the instrument's versatility from the ominous Ashen Sky With Darkened Sun - a reference to the Sydney bushfires - to the melodious serenity of A Sky For Dreaming.

Phillip Houghton's Nocturne started life as a piano piece so when he rearranged it for the quartet in 2004 he wasn't sure if it would work. He need not have worried, as this is a little gem from the self-taught composer who draws inspiration from the environment around him.

Martin Wesley-Smith, on the other hand, is a more political animal and he weaves a 12th century Andalusian oud tune around snatches of anthems from George W Bush's "Coalition of the Willing" for his 2004 Guitar Trek commission Songs and Marches. Hitler Youth tunes vie with The Star Spangled Banner, God Save the Queen and Advance Australia Fair in a work that is more a 15-minute satirical tilt than a polemic. Either way it's a tour de force of constantly shifting moods and styles.

The album ends on a tuneful and folky note with Charlton's variations on the famous Queensland ballad Moreton Bay.

This is a splendid recording marking the rich and varied work of this Canberra-based ensemble.

Steve Moffatt, Manly Daily, September 2012

< TP220   TP221   TP222 >
 TP (1-900)


 

 
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