It seems to me that
guitar composers more readily produce
works in modern accessible idioms than
many other categories of composer. Maybe
I’m being prejudiced, maybe I have had
more opportunities to listen to modern
guitar music lately. Anyway, this is
another highly enjoyable collection
of relatively new music for – in this
case – two guitars. I say ‘relatively’
new insofar as Leo Brouwer’s Per
Suonare a Due was written as long
ago as 1971. On the other hand Dusan
Bogdanovic’s Tombeau de Purcell was
premiered on 27 June 2003. It , was
commissioned for the Eden-Stell Guitar
Duo by Stour Music.
Roland Dyens’ Côté
Nord, composed in 1992, was
commissioned by the International ‘Guitar
Passion’ Festival at Cannes, where it
was first performed by the composer
and his teacher Alberto Ponce. A declaration
of love to Denmark, it was partly written
there, actually in Hillerød near
Copenhagen in the house of Inga Damm
and Svend Wohlert, Dyens’ "Danish
parents". The first movement, Danish
Time is an odyssey through a world
of fascinating sounds, some of them
quite unconventionally produced: percussive,
fast, aggressive. Then, halfway through,
follows a calm, bitonal melody. This
soon dissolves into fragments and there
follows a section with machine-like
sounds, whereupon the music softly disappears.
The second movement, a homage to Hillerød,
opens with a forward-moving theme which
changes between the dissonant and the
tonal. It constantly changes, but is
always present. The end of the movement,
after a soft central part, is a build-up
to a spectacular full stop. Ga-Jol
Dance refers to a well-known Danish
bonbon. It’s a rhythmic piece, played
in an almost casual manner, light-hearted
and swinging – until a popular Danish
song is heard, as if in the distance,
and then a bossa nova-like percussive
section leads back to the busy beginning.
This is a constantly entertaining composition.
Koshkin’s Concertino is in one
movement but divided into three easily
discernible parts: fast – slow – fast.
The composition is tautly constructed
with a couple of themes persistently
repeated and varied. The last part accelerates
relentlessly like an express train until
the initial theme returns in a recapitulation.
Leo Brouwer is the
oldest composer here. His Per Suonare
a Due, in five short movements filled
with contrasts, leaves a lot to the
interpreters’ discretion. It can be
performed by one guitarist only, playing
to a pre-recorded second part. The prologue
and epilogue can change places and the
three central movements can be played
in any order. As played here the first
Prologo o Epilogo is a sprawling
piece, quite improvisatory. The following
Interlude begins in a calm and
introverted fashion until a torrent
of disrupted notes suddenly breaks loose.
The Grand Pas de Deux finds the
two players in an airy finger-tip ballet
scene, bouncing about on an imaginary
stage. After a while the two dancers
go their separate ways, one gliding
dreamily around the floor, while the
other executes burlesque leaps and caprices.
The Scherzo di Bravura is a macabre
scene with virtuosically produced sounds
(even orally), interspersed with silences.
The second Prologo o Epilogo
is like a meditation with some sudden
outbreaks of cascades of tones.
Tombeau de Purcell
by Dusan Bogdanovic is based on the
famous lament from Dido and Aeneas,
but even though there are a couple of
references to the Baroque era, e.g.
using a Passacaglia as the final movement,
it is very much a child of our time
and of Bogdanovic’s roots in the folk
music of the Balkans. This shows in
the often intricate and thrilling rhythmic
All in all this is
a splendid look into some of today’s
many interesting artistic workshops,
where the two guides with safe hands
and steady voices show us around. There
are brief but comprehensive notes in
three languages and the instruments
are reproduced with admirable realism.
Traditionalists may be taken aback at
first but open-minded listeners will
find much to enjoy.