Santa Fe Quitar Quartet

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Fanfare: The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors

"Guitar quartets are not too unusual on CD, so it is lucky for the Santa Fe Guitar Quartet (or “SFG4”) that they have recorded one that stands out from the crowd. Journeys is eclectic but never silly or self-indulgent, contradicting the feeling one sometimes gets that one guitar recital is as good as another.

Mariano Fontana and Miguel Piva are from Argentina. Christopher Dorsey and Eric Slavin are North Americans. Together, “SFG4” has played throughout the Americas, and so it is fitting that the music on Journeys represents both continents, with a little Albéniz and Bach thrown in. The program has been constructed to reflect a variety of musical styles and moods. The arrangements are by the musicians themselves. (It appears that Will Ayton’s piece is the exception, as it was written for guitar quartet.)

In this same issue, I gently berated a classical accordionist for appropriating Astor Piazzolla’s music. Logic dictates that I should go ballistic over a four-guitar arrangement of the same, but SFG4’s comfort with the idiom disarms criticism. The Metheny, Albéniz, and Guastavino works also sound as if they were written for the ensemble. Carlos Guastavino’s infectious Baile (Dance) is one of those “oh yeah, I’ve heard this before but never knew what it was” pieces, and is tremendously enjoyable as such.

I’m a little less convinced by the Copland. Four guitars can’t duplicate the high-spirited racket of the “Hoe Down,” although the “Saturday Night Waltz” is lovely. The Bach is nicely romanticized a la Christopher Parkening, and it was clever to follow it with Will Ayton’s work, written under the influence of Villa-Lobos, who in turn wrote so much under the influence of Bach.

In terms of engineering, this might be the best sounding guitar CD I’ve ever encountered. I have no reason to think that SFG4 doesn’t play this warmly and transparently in person, but a recording as good as this certainly doesn’t hurt.

It takes a lot for one or more guitarists to impress me. Nevertheless, impressed I am with Journeys , and greatly. Even if you don’t normally consider a guitar recital, let this one be an exception."
-Review by Raymond Tuttle, July/August 2004; Volume 27, Number 6

The Kingston Daily Freeman
"...imagine the effect of four such masters of guitar eliciting the dancing, romantic heart of South American music."
-Kitty Montgomery

Sedona Magazine
"A Sedona favorite, the SFG4 returns after a stunning 2002 debut to perform a diverse program sure to please the most discriminating music lover."
-Winter 2005

El Diario
"Una gran técnica y calidad en sus ejecuciones demostraron los integrantes del Cuarteto Santa Fe... mostrando [así] un gran dominio de su instrumento así como una gran sincronización entre sus integrantes."
-Chihuahua, México, 28 April 2004

Rapid City Journal
"Each is a solo virtuoso on the guitar, but together, they produce an ensemble sound that is superb in blend and balance, rhythmically precise and, above all, musically wonderful."
-1 November 2003

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