Sometimes an almost-forgotten old fuddy-duddy like Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) can shed light on the musical events of today. Railing against the tradition of performers rearranging music for other instruments, the dour German composer griped, "You take some older music written for harpsichord, organ, or any other relatively unattractive instrument or group of instruments, and dress it up with all sorts of more fashionable trimmings. For the connoisseur, this is an artistic procedure of about the same value as providing a nice painted skirt and jacket for the Venus of Milo or dolling up the saints of Reims and Chartres with tuxedos, mustaches, and horn-rimmed spectacles" (from A Composer's World, 1952).

Guitarist Paul Galbraith is coming to Seattle to play an enticing program of J. S. Bach, Granados, Poulenc, and the marvelous Mother Goose Suite of Ravel. Like luminous pearls floating in air, Galbraith's sound is unique, due to his remarkable talent and his instrument, an eight-string guitar. Apart from the two extra strings, Galbraith's guitar is supported by a metal endpin, similar to that of a cello, which rests on a wooden resonating box that both broadens and deepens his tone.

Galbraith's performance, comprising works arranged for his instrument, also raises questions about such rearrangements. While a composer's intentions should remain sacrosanct, in practice music is rearranged and altered all the time--not only by musicians, but by the mushy compression of FM radio, your merely good (or godawful) stereo, and by money-hunting composers themselves. In truth, music's masterpieces and middling minions remain in perpetual flux, from remixed, remastered, reissued recordings to revised critical editions and rehearings on new instruments. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

Paul Galbraith performs Sat Sept 20 at 7:30 pm (Recital Hall at Benaroya, Third Ave & Union St, 297-8788), $22/$28.

chris@delaurenti.net

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