Michael Carenbauer


Music for Guitar and Strings


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Michael Carenbauer von der University of Arkansas begeisterte das Publikum


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"Music for Guitar and Strings"

3 works for guitar, string quartet, and a special guest appearance by zheng artist Connie Ng

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nov. 10, 2002
"a charming collection of the usual - Carenbauerıs transcription of a Bach violin concerto - and the highly unusual - a quintet for guitar and string quartet by contemporary Cuban composer Leo Brouwer and Carenbauerıs own sextet for guitar, string quartet and zheng"

Michael Carenbauer's "Music for Guitar and Strings" is a groundbreaking recording that presents 2 major works for guitar and string quartet and Carenbauer's own "Sextet for Guitar, Zheng and String Quartet". The Quapaw Quartet of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra accompanies Carenbauer in his transcription of J. S. Bach's "Concerto in E major for Violin and String Orchestra", BWV 1042. They are joined by Chinese zheng, (a traditional Chinese plucked string instrument), artist Connie Ng for Carenbauer's "Sextet for Guitar, Zheng and String Quartet". Carenbauer's composition in 3 movements includes elements from the European classical tradition, American popular and jazz styles, and Oriental themes. The performance successfully unites musicians with diverse backgrounds in an accessible and satisfying manner. Carenbauer is joined by the Arts Partners Quartet of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in a rare performance of Cuban composer Leo Brouwer's "Quintetto for Guitar and String Quartet". This important work is full of the rhythmic vitality and simple beauty that has made Brouwer one of the most popular composers of music for guitar. Carenbauer's performance of this work was recently featured on NPR's "Classical Guitar Alive", the only internationally broadcast radio program for classical guitar in the world.

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Available in the Central Arkansas region at...

Woodsworth Books & Co.
5920 R Street, Little Rock, AR 72207

Market Street Cinema
Market & Merrill Shopping Center
1521 Merrill Drive, Little Rock, AR 72211

Sigler Music Center
9101 W. Markham St., Little Rock, AR 72205

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
11500 Financial Centre Parkway, Little Rock, AR 72211

Concerto in E major, BWV 1042 by J. S. Bach
Allegro, Adagio, Allegro Assai
Originally composed for violin and
string orchestra , I have arranged this for guitar and string quartet. This recording is with members of the Quapaw Quartet of the Arkansas Symphony.

Samples from all 3 movements are available at:



Sextet for Guitar, Zheng and String Quartet, Michael Carenbauer
Mountain Meditation, Rain Dance, Cabin Creek; Kam Tin Song, Finale

The Sextet for Guitar, Zheng and String Quartet reflects my eclectic musical interests and elicits the interaction of musicians with diverse backgrounds. This unusual instrumental combination presented a unique set of challenges and opportunities. I became interested in the zheng after a meeting with Connie Ng after a performance of mine in Hong Kong some years ago. I discovered that the zheng, or guzheng, has has much in common with the guitar, albeit from a different musical perspective. Both instruments produce sound by plucking a string and have a rapid decay. Both have the ability to play in between the 12 pitches associated with the western intonation system. Interestingly, the zheng is tuned to the pentatonic scale, a universally popular pattern which is the predominant melodic component of much of blues and American popular music. The zheng and guitar have primarily been thought of as solo instruments in their respective classical traditions. I thought it would be interesting to present them in a chamber music setting and combine the sounds of the zheng and guitar with the fullness of the string quartet.

The first movement of this work is divided into 3 sections. Mountain Meditation recalls the Chinese visual landscape tradition and programmatic musical emphasis. A brief exchange, (like drops of rain), between the guitar and zheng is followed by an ostinato figure and held notes in the strings. The arpeggiated figure of the guitar provides a harmonic foundation that changes the aural landscape much as the morning light may change a mountain scene. A transitional Rain Dance section is followed by an Appalachian-like theme, (Cabin Creek), and an improvisatory exchange between the guitar and zheng.

Cabin Creek audio excerpt is located at:


Kam Tin Song features the zheng in a childlike melody that embraces the sentimental and nostalgic side of Chinese music. The harmonic support and accompaniment supplied by the guitar and strings is very much in the American popular music style, as is the overall song form and use of 4 bar phrases throughout.

Kam Tin Song audio excerpt is located at:



The Finale is loosely based on a Chinese folk song. The primary theme is introduced at the start by the zheng with a guitar counterpoint. The harmonic basis of the counterpoint becomes the ground for the syncopated violin figures when the melody reappears with the cello. The theme and accompaniment are reintroduced in retrograde and inversion subsequent to a rousing finale.

Finale audio excerpt is located at:



Quintetto for Guitar and String Quartet, Leo Brouwer
Allegro, Andante, Vivace

I am joined by the Arts Partners Quartet of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in a rare performance of Cuban composer Leo Brouwer's "Quintetto for Guitar and String Quartet". This important work is full of the rhythmic vitality and simple beauty that has made Brouwer one of the most popular composers of music for guitar. I believe that this is only the second time this work has been recorded.



My own composition "Winter Walk" was released on the Arkansas Original compilation by Anthologists. I am playing all of the parts, including the bass with my guitar synthesizer.


Watch RealPlayer video performance excerpts!

"Sextet for Zheng, Guitar and String Quartet"- composed by Michael Carenbauer, performance on Artspree Concert Series with Connie Ng, zheng, Michael Carenbauer, guitar, Quapaw Quartet.



Ode to Home Life - composed by Michael Carenbauer, short excerpt from a performance in Graz, Austria