40 fingers, 24 strings, dexterity rules
David Evan Thomas
Van Stiefel
Gao Hong
Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR)
Minneapolis Guitar Quartet
Gao Hong
Catalog Number: 
new classical
acoustic guitar

Minneapolis, MN

Release Date: 
Mar 26, 2013
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Since the release of their debut album of compositions written for the group in 1996, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet have established themselves as master arrangers and interpreters of music from a staggeringly broad range of genres and time periods. With their fifth release, Thrum, the ensemble returns to their roots with four world premiere recordings of compositions written for the MGQ in the last decade.

Over the course of four high-octane movements, Daniel Bernard Roumain’s Ghetto Strings explores rhythms and resonances drawn from the vibrant places—Detroit, New York, and his native Haiti—where Roumain [DBR] has lived, while David Evan Thomas’ Thrum plumbs the more delicate depths of the nylon-string guitar’s expressive possibilities from an outsider’s perspective, working with the ensemble both as one giant 24-string instrument and as a vehicle for individual virtuosity.

Cinema Castaneda, by Van Stiefel, imagines the quartet as a group of Western ranchers gathered around a campfire at night, trading music and stories, evoking the guitar as instrument of the road. Gao Hong’s Guanxi Impression pairs the classical guitar with Gao’s Chinese pipa (pear-shaped lute) to bring to life a wealth of percussive and melodic approaches that seamlessly blend diverse traditions.

Called "flawless, musical and witty" by Classical Guitar Magazine, UK, the MGQ performs throughout the US both in recital and with orchestra, balancing a dizzying array of first-rate repertoire ranging from Renaissance and Baroque to Spanish, Latin American and Romantic, to highly imaginative existing and newly commissioned contemporary works. The MGQ has been heard on the nationally syndicated Saint Paul Sunday and National Public Radio's Performance Today, and released four previous CDs on the Albany and GSP labels. Members of the quartet are Joseph Hagedorn, Ben Gateño, Wade Oden, Steven Newbrough.


“Music just about good enough to eat…a wonderful ensemble.” – Bill McGlaughlin, Saint Paul Sunday

“…one of the major guitar ensembles in the world” – Soundboard Magazine

"…more than a guitar quartet, more than superb musicians, and more than a great chamber group. They are ambassadors of sound, style, and substance." – Daniel Bernard Roumain

"[A] demonstration of virtuosity and versatility with the promise of yet more, and a glimpse into a mindset that makes these four guitar players a most expressive and malleable artistic channel. The results are beautiful and often bizarre. … The cohesion between the four players is astonishing – the quartet scatter quickly into harmonic duets before swooping together again to create what sounds like one gigantic harp, dipping and rising in tempo and dynamic with the expressive fluidity of a theatrical monologue. … [E]ven though these pieces are clearly composed with the utmost attention to each tiny detail, the immediacy of the performance makes the quartet sound prophetic and telepathic, with each player anticipating every small change as though guided by primitive spiritual sensation." [FULL ARTICLE]
Jack Chuter

“[M]elodically memorable and contains just the slightest hint of fire. The title suite … glows with the thematic gifts of a contemporary classical style in search of a new expression while never forgetting the old ways.  … Thrum is a delightfully mysterious product from a group that really knows how to pull the right commissioning strings.” [FULL ARTICLE]
—John Garratt

“[The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet] are masters at forming a cohesive ensemble sound and bringing out sound-colors of a broad range. May they long thrive, and may they continue to attract and discover contemporary compositions that do them the full justice that these works do.” [FULL ARTICLE]
—Greg Edwards

"[T]he combination of the mellifluous and nail-hard, of resonance and striking impact a guitar quartet can have is something a bit special. The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet … is exactly the kind of crack ensemble you want performing contemporary repertoire. … Daniel Bernard Roumain’s Ghetto Strings is sharp and unsentimental, with groovy jazz/rock accents in the opening Harlem, some gorgeously nuanced quasi-minimalist dreaming … a highly enjoyable masterpiece. 'Cinema Castaneda' … takes us deeper into the sonic variety of the ensemble than any of the others, layering dynamics and playing with effects in ways which alter our perspectives and genuinely create a valuable and cinematic journey." [FULL ARTICLE]
Dominy Clements