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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Concertos for Guitar Duo
Carlo DOMENICONI (b. 1947)

Concerto Meditteraneo, Op. 67 (1993) ¹
Harald GENZMER (b. 1909)

Concerto in G (1989)²
Dale Kavanagh, Thomas Kirchhoff (Amadeus Guitar Duo), guitars
Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Halle¹
Marc Piollet, conductor¹
Amati Ensemble München²
Residenzquintett München²
Attila Balogh, conductor²
Recorded June 1994¹ and May 1996² (venues not stated).
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC 98.347 [57.10]
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An excellently performed disc of some fine modern guitar repertoire, in this case concertos for guitar duet. The Amadeus Guitar Duo (Canadian Dale Kavanagh and German Thomas Kirchhoff, a couple off-stage as well as on) play this music with real belief. Particularly in the case of the Domeniconi, it is not difficult to understand why. The Italian born composer was responsible for what this writer considers to be one of the absolute peaks of 20th century guitar repertoire (the fantastic Koyunbaba) and his effort here is not far behind - his Concerto Mediterraneo. This was conceived almost as a requiem for the Mediterranean ("having watched the waters die") and is up there with the best of recent efforts in this medium, e.g. Leo Brouwer's Toronto and Helsinki concertos and Richard Harvey's Concerto Antico. It shares with these pieces (although they are for solo rather than guitar duo) a highly listenable idiom which is nonetheless an adventurous one and also a relative distance from the (admittedly successful) Spanish ones. Domeniconi's Mediterranean laps the shores of his native Italy and, to an even greater degree, those of Greece and especially Turkey. He lived and taught in the latter country and it was the inspiration for his masterpiece, the aforementioned Koyunbaba.

The half hour concerto is cast in three movements of roughly equal length and sets two sections marked Allegro around a central Andante cantabile. The score is by turns lyrical, meditative and always very musical - the booklet notes rightly allude to the guitar sound sometimes approximating (this is especially apparent in the slow movement) to that of Byzantine and Near East stringed instruments like the oud and bouzouki. There are precedents for this. In a different context altogether, John Tavener's Chant makes similar connections. It also reminded me, unsurprisingly, at times of an EMI disc (probably now deleted) of Turkish folk music played on guitar. That said, Domeniconi is a modern composer working with modern sounds and he has produced something highly worthwhile and often moving. It left me wanting to hear more of yet another relatively neglected Italian and is a piece of beauty in its own right (especially in the opening movement), only marginally less magical and atmospheric than Koyunbaba.

Harald Genzmer is a German composer, from an older generation than Domeniconi, who has been described as a "moderate modern". I would concur with this analysis. I was very interested in the fact that, in his concerto for two guitars, wind quintet and strings, the final movement (Allegro) cadenza used is by Gerald Garcia. Garcia is one of my favourite guitarist/composers. His transcriptions of Celtic music are particularly special and are, to these ears, echoed in the very opening of Genzmer's work itself.

The first movement as a whole is restlessly inventive but this piece's emotional centre is its central Largo, in which "the dry lyricism of its guitar parts…are framed by warm harmonies in the strings and winds" to create music which wouldn't be out of place in the slower sections of Brouwer's magnificent Concerto di Toronto. The finale, Garcia cadenza and all, ends the work on an exuberant and highly rhythmic high note, providing a suitable conclusion to a very desirable disc. A little short on playing time perhaps but the Domeniconi, in particular, is essential listening for any 20th century guitar aficionados. Recording, production and performances are exemplary.

Neil Horner

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Concerto Mediterraneo op. 67

Allegro moderato

Andante cantabile

Concerto in G
Andante tranquillo - Allegro
Vivace Cadence by Gerald Garcia

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