Elliott Bark: (Com)Passionate Music; Shostakovich: Preludes & Fugues Nos 1, 5 & 24, Op 87 (arr Bark); Debussy: Children's Corner Suite (arr Bark)

Reviewed on Mon 23 Feb, 2015

Classical guitarist Petar Jankovic has combined his six strings with those of a traditional string quartet and the result is a chamber ensemble full of expressive possibilities: their first album showcased Spanish and Latin American music, but here the possibilities are more fully realised in a bolder choice of repertoire. Composer/arranger Elliott Bark is the key: his reworkings of three Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues achieve a clever balance of strings amid the contrapuntal lines; while in his version of Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite the guitar is all the more effective for its occasionally restrained accompanying role (in 'Jimbo’s Lullaby', for example). But the real delight here is Bark’s original two-part suite (Com)Passionate – the 'Passionate' movement aggressive and angular; then the contrasting 'Compassionate' a gorgeous adagio for strings. Here Bark comes closest to integrating the inherently heterogeneous sounds of plucked and bowed strings into a coherent whole: no small achievement.
–Mark Walker