Buffalo Guitar Quartet
"From Elizabethan England to 1993 California."
Sunday, Student Center Auditorium, Canisius College.
Hearing the Buffalo Guitar Quartet perform is like listening to a vibrant painting.
Tonal colors splashed across four centuries of music as the impeccably disciplined musicians presented the final concert in Canisius College's 125th Anniversary Celebration Series, Sunday in the student center.
Their palette of musical miniatures assumed the delicacy of a Japanese ink drawing. Utilizing the resources of four guitars, eight hands and 24 strings, they created music that throbbed with the precision of a single heartbeat.
The current lineup of the BGQ is made up of Len Biszkont, Richard Falkenstein, James Piorkowski and John Sawers. Next year they will celebrate the group's 20-year anniversary, which may explain some of their ensemble adroitness.
Their appeal was readily evident as the temptation of a sunny afternoon did nothing to diminish a large and appreciative crowd that gathered to enjoy classical guitar playing at its best.
Whether they are playing traditional music from Elizabethan England or experimental contemporary California sounds, the quartet never sounds unmusical.
Five pieces by William Byrd opened the concert with a cornucopia of melodic invention and well-placed dynamics that allowed each member of the ensemble to catch, polish and toss the melody on to one of his colleagues.
The Coranto, a quick-paced dance, set the tone as imitation and melodic invention dominated the briskly played air.
Byrd's slow-paced Pavanne evoked a leisurely paced era when subtle dynamics were prized in musical compositions that assumed the stature of high art.
Of the seven selections that made up the concert, the most engaging were Federico Moreno-Torroba's five selections and modernist Buzz Gravelle's "They Go On Mumbling," a piece subtitled "An Elegy for John Cage" because of its use of prepared instruments.
Moreno-Torroba's music transported the listener from the discipline of the Byrd and Bach music that preceded it to the emotional fire of Spanish culture.
Francis Poulenc's "Intermede Champetre," "Pastourelle" and "March" were humorous pieces filled with enough wit to conjure up a tumbling Pierrot.
The most outstanding aspect of the Buffalo Guitar Quartet's music was that it not only appealed to the ear, it created mind pictures.