I like the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's no-bullshit approach to classical guitar music. They play what they want and stuff their concerts with new pieces along with smart arrangements of old classics. They have no fear about being influenced by pop music or drawing upon music from around the world.

You won't hear these four virtuosos of the acoustic guitar--John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, and Andrew York--probing the far-flung frontiers of the avant by transcribing Brian Ferneyhough's prickly Kurze Schatten II or jamming with Luigi Archetti, but they take risks and deliver a really good show.

When I caught the LAGQ in February 2002, I marveled at their tight, rhythmically antiphonal ensemble work and seamless use of techniques not usually associated with "classical" guitar such as preparing the strings to buzz and whir with mutes, paper clips, and chains. I generally loathe transcriptions, but the LAGQ not only rendered tricky passages in Stravinsky's Pulcinella with confident verve, but also carefully observed essential dynamics in the work's overture and finale.

This time around they're heeding the First Law of Touring Classical Guitarists--they're playing a bit of J.S. Bach--but the bulk of the concert consists of pieces from their spiffy new disc LAGQ's Guitar Heroes (Telarc) which honors Jimi Hendrix, Sergio Assad, Steve Howe, Chet Atkins, Frank Zappa, and others.

For an encore, they romped through a reconstituted Pachelbel's Canon in D minor, parading through a medley of styles from classical to jazz to funk, fusion, salsa, and grunge. I don't know what's up their sleeves this time, but it should be fun. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

Catch the LAGQ Sat Sept 25 at 7:30 pm (Recital Hall at Benaroya, Third Ave and Union St, 297-8788), $25/$30.


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