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Per Suonare a Due - New music for two guitars
Roland DYENS (b. 1955) Côté Nord [21:37]: Danish Time; Hillerød; Ga-Jol Dance; Nikita KOSHKIN (b. 1956) Concertino [13:34]; Leo BROUWER (b. 1939) Per Suonare a Due [15:23]: Prologo o Epilogo I; Interludio; Grand Pas de Deux; Scherzo di Bravura; Prologo o Epilogo II; Dusan BOGDANOVIC (b. 1955) Tombeau de Purcell [9:16]: Overture Grave doloroso; Variation I Lamentoso; Variation II Risoluto; Variation III Adagio transparente; Variation IV Espressivo e ritmico; Variation V Allegro non troppo e ritmico; Passacaglia Grave doloroso
Mark Eden and Christopher Stell (guitars)
rec. Holy Trinity Church, Weston, Hertfordshire 19-21 February and 22 March 2005
BGS RECORDS BGS112 [59:51]
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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.

Moscow-born Nikita 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 felicities.

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.

Göran Forsling



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