As the most popular, ubiquitous instrument in the world, everyone knows what a guitar sounds like, right? Right? The guitarists of Mobius Trio believe otherwise – that we’ve only just begun to explore full capabilities of the instrument, and this program seeks to display the breadth of what the classical guitar can do, so far.
Beginning with two completely revolutionary arrangements of “old music” for three guitars, the Mobians show what they’re capable of. Ravel’s String Quartet and Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez are two of the most beautiful, recognizable pieces of the early 20th-century repertoire, capturing an incredible fusion of Impressionism and Spanish and Basque culture that is even more evident when he works are paired. And, as pieces that were originally written for string quartet (Ravel) and orchestra with guitar solo (Rodrigo) it takes a slew of brand new guitar techniques to make them happen on only three guitars.
The second half of the program moves from the Basque country and Spain to Brazil, where a jazz-influenced, guitar-centric, highly improvisatory constellation of popular genres (samba, choro, bossa nova, frevo, etc.) has radiated an aura of “cool” that the rest of the world has sought to emulate since the 1960s. Though not as common on contemporary classical music stages, beginning a set with an improvisation has been a common practice in many musical traditions, from Baroque and Classical-era Europe to 20th and 21st century jazz clubs. This is exactly what Mobius does for the second half, starting out with an improvisation in the form of a game, whose rules were invented by Mobius member Matt Linder.
Next, the Trio performs an arrangement of Carlos Lyra’s Influencia do Jazz, a mid-century Brazilian classic, and now a standard tune in the Brazilian bossa nova canon. The arranger, none other than the Brazilian guitar legend Sergio Assad, has managed to distill the sound of a full bossa nova band into three guitars, breathing new life into a beloved Brazilian classic. This arrangement is the ONLY piece the Trio plays that isn’t a commission, but since the arrangement is by Sergio Assad, Mobius’s teacher, and pairs so well with the next piece, the Mobius boys happily make an exception.
The program closes with Sergio Assad’s Kindergarten, a masterful fusion of Brazilian jazz and popular sounds with the intricate guitar chamber music that the Assad Brothers have made world famous. Also a meditation on Sergio’s days as Mobius Trio’s teacher, this piece must be seen live to be believed.
Works to be performed on the “Guitaristic Genre Omnipresence” program include:
Maurice Ravel, String Quartet in F Major, ii. Assez vif (1903)
Joaquin Rodrigo, Concierto de Aranjuez (1939)
Matt Linder, Improvisation Game (2016)
Carlos Lyra, Influencia do Jazz (1962)
Sergio Assad, Kindergarten (2014)