anniversary project 20+

Eos Guitar Quartet 20+

Let’s be honest: the best presents are often those we give ourselves. But what gift would be appropriate for a guitar quartet celebrating 20 years on the stage? A comparison can give us a clue: what do a couple give each other after 20 years of marriage? Perhaps a journey to an unknown destination during which they reminisce about their past and imagine their future together? Or maybe something practical instead? The Eos Guitar Quartet at any rate – although it most certainly has a practical bent too – decided against new music stands and for a journey of adventure – naturally one accompanied by 24 strings.

The idea was to put together 20 miniature compositions by 20 different composers in order to celebrate the passing of 20 years and take the step into the next 20. After all, 20 years of Eos are hardly enough. So Project 20+ was born. Ultimately, 21 musicians from all over the world took part – as indicated by the formula 20+. The composers were asked only to include a thematic reference to rosy-fingered Eos, Greek goddess of dawn and her entourage, and not to go beyond two to three minutes. Actually the whole enterprise was rather foolhardy: what if no one wanted to take part? Or if everyone ignored the conditions? What should be done to avoid the group of individual composers producing a patchwork quilt rather than a musical tapestry woven expressly for the goddess who opens the gates of heaven each morning?

Of the 21 titles, over half refer to Eos and her entourage, either directly by name (Doran, Gruntz, Muthspiel, Turkmani) or to dawn and daybreak (Assad, Frith, Pujol, Rodríguez). Thus the Argentine Pujol with his Naranjas urbanos (urban orange hues) – refers to the mood and colour (dirty orange-grey) that draw across the sky above Buenos Aires at daybreak. In his Tropical dawn, Assad for his part evokes the avian dawn chorus in the Brazilian jungle. Frith paints a mellow water-colour of an Icelandic morning mood in Fáir. And the winds, among them Notos and Boreas, sons of Eos, breathe life into three compositions (Baumann, Brouwer, Favre). Finally, four pieces are not original compositions for the Eos Guitar Quartet; however, the composers either rearranged them especially for the quartet (Camilo, Gismonti) or explicitly allowed Eos to rework existing pieces (de Lucía, Vollenweider). More details on the various pieces and information about the composers may be found on www.guitarquartet.ch.

The best presents are those we give ourselves. And naturally those that others also appreciate – as is shown by this recording. So we can look forward with anticipation to Eos – 30+!              Ruth Hafen


EOS VARIATIONS, composers:
Sérgio Assad (Brasilien)
Christoph Baumann (Schweiz)
Leo Brouwer (Kuba)
Michel Camilo (Domenikanische Republik)
Christy Doran (Schweiz/Irland)
Roland Dyens (Frankreich)
Pierre Favre (Schweiz)
Fred Frith (England)
Egberto Gismonti (Brasilien)
George Gruntz (Schweiz)
John Anthony Lennon (USA)
Paco de Lucía (Spanien)
John McLaughlin (England)
Wolfgang Muthspiel (Österreich)
Máximo Diego Pujol (Argentinien)
José Antonio Rodriguez (Spanien)
Mike Stern (USA)
Ralph Towner (USA)
Mahmoud Turkmani (Libanon)
Alexander Vinitsky (Russland)
Andreas Vollenweider (Schweiz)