Featuring music by J. S. Bach, Antoine de Lhoyer, Ludwig van Beethoven, Isaac Albéniz, and Joseph V. Williams. Available through CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, and most online retailers (reviews available here, here, here, and here)
"Altogether this was a wonderful CD with some challenging and rare items that were impeccable in every respect, and I doubt you will have many of these pieces in your collection already. Wonderful and highly recommended." - Classical Guitar Magazine
“This recording marks a tremendous accomplishment for the classical guitar...Their technical mastery, scholarship, passion, and intuitive ensemble playing contribute greatly to the remarkable nature of this recording...the TxGQ perform with virtuosity, clarity, balance, and a refined character which will no doubt help to establish them as one of today’s leading guitar quartets.” - Guitar International
This album brings together three icons of western art: one operatic, one cinematic and one symphonic. Though fundamentally different, they each explore a complex drama that blurs the lines between narrative and abstraction and breaks new ground in guitar quartet genre.
When Gioachino Rossini’s IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA was premiered in 1816, it was a resounding flop - complete with audience hisses and onstage debacles. However, it has since become one of the most beloved operas of all time and the TxGQ, like so many, fell in love with the OVERTURE through Bugs Bunny's infamous iconic cartoon The Rabbit of Seville. It features some of the most memorable and endearing melodies in the whole of music and was arranged here by TxGQ member Alejandro Montiel.
THE LONDON FOG by Joseph Williams II is directly inspired by the icon of film Alfred Hitchcock. In 1927, the “Master of Suspense” created his third film and his first masterpiece The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog. It tells the story of a “Jack the Ripper-esque” killer, an enigmatic stranger and a beautiful blonde woman named Daisy caught in a triangle of love, murder and mystery. This fabulous film has all the traits of the mature Hitchcock: it is cinematically brilliant, psychologically probing, and often hilarious. In 2014, Joseph composed an original score to The Lodger. In 2015, the TxGQ, along with virtuoso cellist Bion Tsang, premiered the new work and they continue to present this in concert live with the film. The LONDON FOG is a suite drawn from the film score and evokes the dangerous and sentimental world of Hitchcock.
Mozart’s SYMPHONY NO. 40 is a perennial favorite and an icon of the supreme elegance and sophistication of the classical era. Leonard Bernstein described it as “a work of utmost passion utterly contained” and goes further to state “If one had to point to a work that symbolized in itself the essence of the whole Faustian experience of man… this would be it” (The Unanswered Question. Harvard, 1973). Alejandro Montiel took on the Herculean task of arranging this symphony which has never before been performed its entirety on guitars.
The Singing Guitar (2021)
A Chicago Tribune Best Classical Recording of 2020, A WRTI Best of 2020 Album, Apple Music Featured New Album, and Qobuz Grand Selection.
“The singing of Craig Hella Johnson’s ensemble Conspirare combined with the delicacy of shifting textures of twelve guitars is intriguing and emotionally effective. … I found this a really moving setting for an unusual ensemble. You’ll find it alongside other new pieces for choir and guitar quartet.” – Andrew McGregor, BBC Record Review
“Johnson and Conspirare continue to create indelible work, as in “The Singing Guitar,” which pairs Conspirare’s sublime voices with guitar accompaniment. The melismatic chant of Reena Esmail’s “When the Guitar,” the poignant tone painting of Nicol Muhly’s “How Little You Are,” and the storytelling character of Kile Smith’s “The Dawn’s Early Light” illuminate Conspirare’s versatility and singular sound.” – Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
Music for choir and guitars with Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Texas Guitar Quartet, Austin Guitar Quartet, and cellist Douglas Harvey.
Johnson curated a program woven together by exquisitely crafted music for voices, guitar, and stories of women.
Nico Muhly’s musical mediation How Little You Are evokes powerful landscapes of American pioneers in a compelling work for choir and 12 guitars; soprano Estelí Gomez is a featured soloist. Kile Smith’s The Dawn’s Early Light sets selected text from Native American Sarah Winnemucca’s autobiography that addresses the significant divisions in our human family. The texts present contrasting perspectives of Sara Winemucca, the first Native American to publish and English language narrative, and the pioneer women whose texts are set in Muhly’s piece.
Indian-American composer Reena Esmail’s “When the Guitar,” in a new instrumentation created for Conspirare and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, opens the CD. Conspirare’s sopranos and altos join cellist Douglas Harvey in Craig Hella Johnson’s “The Song That I Came to Sing”.
Conspirare gratefully acknowledges the following for their support of this recording: Anonymous, Dale and Tina Knobel, Legacy of Sound 2, Hella Circle, CAPTRUST: STMM, National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, City of Austin Economic Development Department, Cultural Arts Division and St. Luke’s Methodist Church.