Although guitar threesomes tend to get squeezed for repertory and identity by the more common duos and quartets, don’t pity the Amsterdam Guitar Trio. Composers from the top of every guitar arranger’s hit list may have dominated the short program Friday at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, but the Amsterdamers’ exciting communal arrangements sound like nobody else’s.
In fact, their arrangements often verge on recomposition. Rich in percussion and timbral effects, including a novel use of muted guitars, their flamboyant adaptations of three Domenico Scarlatti sonatas certainly had energy and postmodern sass in their favor, while overwhelming the clean, lean textures of the originals. This dynamic, occasionally over-the-top approach worked better in a quirky version of Manuel de Falla’s “El Amor Brujo,” and best of all in a conglomeration of Astor Piazzolla labeled “Porten~as.”
The trio brought along one original work for the medium, Akira Nishimura’s recent “Pipa,” a moody, quasi-minimalist study in fluttering tremolos. And a nod was offered to the Schubert bicentennial in the form of the composer’s Arpeggione Sonata, deftly arranged with comparative restraint.
The powerful playing of Helenus de Rijke, Olga Franssen and Edith Leerkes proved individually rich in character throughout and highly interactive in fluent ensemble. Their lone, almost ironic encore was a mere snippet of the “Waltz of the Flowers” from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.”