The studio guitarist’s guide to happiness and personal fulfilment, as related to us by session legend Mitch Dalton. This month: Barcelona 4 Guitars.
Barcelona 4 Guitars? No. That’s not a La Liga result with the away team’s score omitted to spare the anguish of the visiting support. It’s just that, occasionally the endless conveyor belt of topclass studio dates, the royalty stream that cascades over me like a one-armed bandit with epilepsy, the Moët, the girls... eventually it palls. Honest. A break beckons.
And so it came to pass that, with the aid of a diary, a calculator and a couple of Neurofen, I squeezed a few days respite from the daily grind and fled to Catalonia’s capital.
After making allowance for the unmitigated Hell of Luton Airport and the temporary loss of my guitar at Barcelona Terminal 1, I arrived at Casa Posho to be treated like minor royalty. And there it was, on page uno of the Internet guide, a concert at The Palau de la Musica Catalana that very evening featuring the eponymous quartet.
I abluted, beered and tapas-ed, and found myself at the magnificent concert hall in anticipation of my nine o’clock rendezvous with Spanish shredding. Two elegantly attired persons of each gender duly appeared, 10 fashionable minutes late, and eased themselves into the programme by warming up with a four part re-orchestration of Carmen, for Pedro’s sake!
These guys are virtuosi, each demonstrating their own subtly individual approach, always in the service of the greater musical good. They then proceeded to take Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto for a walk, gave Tchaikovsky’s Waltz Of The Flowers a serious seeing-to, and performed invasive surgery on Albeniz, Boccherini, Verdi and others. There was a spotlit solo for all four protagonists, each dazzling in tone and technique.
And then there was the comedy! If mere musical genius were not sufficient, at various points in the evening the recital was interrupted by everyone’s favourite oaf of a roadie, a sneering incompetent who proceeded to misplace manuscript, clatter music stands and apparently drop instruments offstage, all the while showing contempt for quartet and audience alike. Then there was the simulated ego-fuelled attempt by band members to outdo each other. Six and then eight foot lutes were produced, followed by some Hendrix inspired Stratting out, then a parodic burst of operatic arias, ‘singing waiter’ style, eventually reaching a conclusion as one of the young ladies fired both musical barrels with a deafening rendition of The Toccata and Fugue on organ.
There followed a meticulously drilled sequence in which one group member appeared to use the remaining trio as a human iTunes library, employing his phone to change music, fast forward and back, pause, stop and repeat. The spoof ended with the inevitable phone glitch in which the band were reduced to repeating a musical fragment ad nauseam.The recital ended with a standing ovation and an encore of Ravel’s Bolero.
Our fearless fretters began the arrangement as a duo, one guitar simulating the (in)famous snare drum groove. This was not deemed to be sufficiently entertaining for sophisticated concert-goers and the two remaining members quickly entered the fray, each pair playing one of the two guitars. It merely remained for the quartet to reach the finale on one instrument only, like a multi-octave mad octopus.
Remarkable. Stunning. Unique. I loved it. Let’s hope tonight’s jazz quartet at the hotel comes close!
Were there but one string fewer on my chosen instrument, I could justifiably describe this vacation as a bassman’s holiday. But there isn’t. So I can’t. Pity though...
Mitch finds himself dazzled by virtuosity in beautiful Barcelona