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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

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Duo Erato - Musings
Pierre PETIT (1922-2000)

1. Toccata pour Deux Guitares [6:13]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)

Prelude, Fugue and Variations Op.18; 2. Prelude (Andantino) [3:42]; 3. Lento [0:47]; Fugue (Allegretto ma non troppo) [2:10]; Variation (Andantino) [4:14]
Johann PADOWETZ (1800-1873)

6. Concert variations on The Carnival of Venice Op. 62 [6:25]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)

7. Evocation from Iberia [5:50]; 8. El Puerto from Iberia [4:23]
Fernando SOR (1776-1839)

L’Encouragement Op.34; 9.Cantabile [4:08]; 10.Theme [0:52]; 11.Variation I [0:42]; 12 Variation II [1:57]; 13 Variation III [1:28]; 14 Valse [3:18]
Ernesto CORDERO (b.1946)

Sonatina Tropical; 15.Mi Guajirita [2:22]; 16.Cancion Azul [2:25]; 17 Salsa en Pinoñes [7:08].
Bernardo PASQUINI (1637-1710)

Sonata in d minor; 18. Allegro [1:20]; 19Adagio [3:06]; 20. Vivace [1:08]
Martha Masters and Risa Carlson, guitars
rec. at Loyola Marymount University.
GSP RECORDINGS GSP 1029 CD [64:39]


During the 1970s two musicians established a performing alliance that, on a purely theoretical basis, some may have anticipated would be less than ideal.

With concerted effort it would be difficult to identify two guitarists who are more disparate in their approach to the guitar than Julian Bream and John Williams. Despite this, in a genre that requires seamless affinity and a true "oneness", the duo guitar recordings that they made were surprisingly good. The anticipated criticism was forthcoming but this writer has always respected and enjoyed the fruits of that relationship.

Martha Masters and Risa Carlson are from similar musical backgrounds and both studied under Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. In their approach to playing the guitar each reflects that common training. Duo Erato was formed during their time at the Peabody.

Comparing this new release with the duo recordings of Breams/Williams one may come to at least one conclusion: based purely on solo performance and theoretical compatibility/incompatibility considerations, any prediction regarding the quality of what may be produced as a duo is highly fallible - in essence Bream and Williams did it much better than Masters and Carlson.

The strength of this new disc is the programme.

While musically the disc gets off to rather a shaky start with Toccata pour deux Guitares by Pierre Petit, the Prelude, Fugue and Variation Opus 18 by César Franck that follows has serious merit.

From personal experience English guitarist Carlos Bonell, born of Spanish parents, has expressed acute awareness of the challenge in playing music for which the musician has no cultural connection. He is able quickly to discern if a guitarist playing Spanish music understands nuances of that music.

On the review disc, renditions of music by Isaac Albéniz (7), (8), do not convey the "Spanish spirit" or nuances one has come to expect from Alicia de Larrocha, Andrès Segovia or indeed Englishman Julian Bream. The music from Op. 34 by Sor fares better.

The compositions by Ernesto Cordero and Bernardo Pasquini are less frequently recorded and therefore welcome.

Programme-wise this is an enjoyable recording but the duo guitar playing does not compare with the best available.

Zane Turner



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