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
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.
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.
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
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
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