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Prestilagoyana - Guitar Duos
Pierre PETIT (1922-2000)

1.Tarantelle [6:53]; 9. Toccata [6:16]
Ida PRESTI (1924-1967)

2. Prelude No.1 Allegretto [5:25]; 3. Danse D’Avila. Allegretto brillante [4:17]
Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968)

Sonatina Canonica op.196 [11:48]. 4. Mosso grazioso e leggero [3:42]; 5. Tempo di Siciliane [5:05]; 6. Fandango en Rondeau [2:56]; Fuga Elegiaca (1967). 13. Preludio-Fuga [5:16]
Jean-Yves DANIEL-LESUR (1908-2002)

7. Elegie (1956) [6:45]
Pierre WISSMER (1915-1992)

8. Prestilagoyana (1969). Allegro [6:43]
Joaquin RODRIGO (1901-1999)

Tondilla[13:17]. 10. Allegro ma non troppo [3:05]; 11.Minueto pomposo Andante [5:42 ] 12.Allegro vivace [4:23]
Joachim Schrader, Jan Erler (guitars)
rec. 11-13 October 2004, Andreaskirche Berlin Wannsee.
MDG SZENE MDG 603 1348-2 [67:41]

Of the modern era, three names from the world of classical guitar engender a reverence that will never change its historical significance.

In his lifetime Andrès Segovia forged a unique place in the history of the classical guitar. As a duo Ida Presti and Alexander Lagoya similarly established standards of innovation and excellence which remain unequalled despite the passage of almost four decades since the tragic death of Ida Presti in 1967; she died of lung cancer aged 43.

During their performing period (1955-1967), the duo gave more than 2000 concerts worldwide to great public and press acclaim. Those fortunate enough to own copies of their recordings have a tangible, enduring testimony of their magnificence; regrettably these recordings are no longer commercially available. Others, even more fortunate, will have memories of attending their concerts and witnessing firsthand the capabilities of duo guitar playing when executed by two consummate masters.

For those driven more by optimism than attention to detail, the title of the review disc "Prestilagoyana, Guitar Duos" could lead one to the wrong conclusion: a re-release to fill a lamentable void? This new recording is, in fact, by the Heinrich Albert Duo. The title is derived from a composition of the same name by Pierre Wissmer (1915-1992) that appears on track eight; dedicated to the famous duo it was not composed until two years after Presti’s death.

Any initial disappointment is ephemeral; from the very first few measures of Tarantella by Pierre Petit one becomes aware that two excellent musicians are performing as a first-class duo. There is seamless unity, strong rhythmic drive and diverse tonal colourations in their playing that, on occasions, reminds one more of Presti/Lagoya than probably any other disc that has been released since the activities of the duo terminated in1967.

The Heinrich Albert Duo comprises guitarists Joachim Schrader and Jan Erler. This alliance, founded in 2002, derives its name from the composer Heinrich Albert (1870-1950) who wrote duets for the guitar.

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco enjoyed a close collaboration with Segovia and consequently composed more than one hundred works for solo guitar and in combination with other instruments. Presented here is Sonata Canonica Op.196 and Fuga Elegiaca (1967). The latter was composed in response to the death of Ida Presti. Well-known English editor/guitarist John Duarte asked Castelnuovo-Tedesco to write two works to commemorate the sad occasion, and he responded with this prelude and fugue.

Jean-Ives Daniel-Lesur studied composition, piano, harmony and counterpoint at the Paris Conservatoire. His "Elegie for Two Guitars" exhibits characteristics that have Roman origins. Among Romans the elegy became a poem of lament or of love, and in this composition Lesur draws on the characteristic tone of lamenting and yearning.

Joaquin Rodrigo, blind from the age of three, studied with Paul Dukas and became a friend of Manuel de Falla. With origins in the first half of the 18th century, the tonadilla developed into a three-movement form (introduction, copla and final) with the concluding part often being a dance in the form of a seguidilla.

A highlight of the programme is the beautifully melodic "Danse d’Avilia" by Ida Presti. There are echoes of piano music by Granados and Albéniz, especially the latter’s Torre Bermeja.

In relation to the beauty of one guitar, Frederic Chopin is purported to have expressed only one preference - for two guitars. On what basis he made that comment we cannot be sure but contemporaries Dionisio Aguado and Fernando Sor shared a house in Paris and it may have been their duo playing which inspired him.

Of one thing we can be fairly certain: if it were the Heinrich Albert Duo who had played for Chopin, based on the performance now under review, the response would have been just as positive. Another very famous composer for piano, robbed in later years of hearing, referred to the guitar as "a miniature orchestra". In the hands of the Heinrich Albert Duo this perspective is amplified by a factor of two and at times the description "miniature" sounds more like "small."

For reasons evident from the first few measures of track one, this new release is definitely recommended listening.

Zane Turner

 

 



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