Léo Delibes: Sous le dôme épaisThe Modern Mandolin Quartet presents a delightful alternative to a Christmas classic with the Dorian Sono Luminus release of Nutcracker Suite, an enchanting collection of music reinvisioned with instruments from the mandolin family: two mandolins, a mandola and mandocello.The Modern Mandolin Quartet was formed in 1985 to give a new voice to that most American of musical instruments, the mandolin. Following the tradition of the mandolin orchestras and chamber groups from the early twentieth century, the MMQ uses the instruments of the mandolin family which correspond to the conventional string quartet (two mandolins, mandola, and mandocello). To date the Quartet has arranged and performed over 90 works originally written for orchestra, chamber ensemble, piano, guitar, and string quartet.Miguel Llobet’s most popular works are the arrangements of Catalan folk songs (Canciones populares Catalanas). Llobet’s original solo guitar melodies have been re-arranged for mandolin quartet. The interesting, often strange harmonies he chose and the delicate texture of the guitar music made these pieces quite fun and natural for the MMQ.MMQ has been performing their own fun version of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece since 1991. Influenced by Mstislav Rostropovich’s extraordinary Berlin Philharmonic recording, MMQ brings its own other-worldly magic to this perennial musical favorite.Fauré’s haunting Pavane is bathed in harmonies which are quite rich and reminded the MMQ of jazz chords, and through improvisation the members of MMQ decided to include two solos in the finished product. The Vivaldi Concerto in D Major is MMQ’s nod to the traditional plucked string repertoire. Its joyful energy and the quieter evocative quality of the second movement made this concerto a pleasure to play.Léo Delibes composed his operatic masterpiece Lakme in 1883. This gorgeous musical selection (originally for soprano and mezzo-soprano) translates beautifully in MMQ’s treatment and is a fitting close to the program.