is more beautiful than a guitar save perhaps two….” so commented
Frederic Chopin. Exactly when he said this is not known but
it may not be too fanciful to think it was after hearing Fernando
Sor and Dionisio Aguado playing guitar duets in the house they
shared in Paris.
discussion on duo guitar playing can be complete without reference
to the husband/wife team of Alexander Lagoya and Ida Presti
who established themselves as the world’s premiere exponents
of this genre.
the solo guitar may have suffered from a meagre repertory, the
paucity of music for two guitars was even more pronounced. It
is the beautiful arrangements for guitar duo by Alexander Lagoya
that complemented the success of Presti/Lagoya, the greatest
combination of their time and probably of all time.
review disc comprises both transcriptions and original works
for two guitars. Sonatina Canonica (15-17) by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
was written for Presti and Lagoya and in total, works by eight
different composers are presented. These span the period 1867
(E. Granados) to L. Brouwer (b. 1939).
Gruber (b.1965, Wurzburg)
and Peter Maklar (b. 1964, Bottrop)
formed the duo in 1984 when they both started studying at the
Leopold Mozart Conservatory in Augsburg.
In 1991 they were awarded first prize at the largest international
competition for guitar duos in Montelimar,
France, and on that occasion they also won
first prize for most popular duo with the audience. The two
guitarists have taken part in master-classes with Sergio and
Odair Assad, Alvaro Pierri, Leo Brouwer and Angelo Gilardino,
and in 1993 were awarded scholarships for the Villa Musica in
Mainz. In the
same year they both received sponsorship from the Yehudi Menuhin
Foundation, Live Music Now.
things considered, the guitar playing on this disc is technically
and musically excellent. To play “as one” is the ambition and
objective of all who play duets and Gruber and Maklar certainly
inaccessible to a single instrument often becomes playable on
two guitars, and in the hands of a master arranger a new dimension
of excellence is often added. Probably the most magnificent
recorded example of this is Alexander Lagoya’s arrangement for
two guitars of Handel’s Chaconne in G major taken from the second
Suite in Vol. II of the Suites de Pièces for harpsichord.
(Baroque Music for Guitar- Presti and Lagoya- Philips 422 285-2).
This is the apotheosis of transcribing and playing guitar duets.
guitarist who has ever played Manuel Ponce’s Scherzino Mexicano
(14) immediately recognise how beautifully it “falls under the
fingers” and the highly guitaristic nature of this original
composition for guitar- wrong! Despite all impressions it is
surprising to learn that this piece was originally written for
piano. Later arranged for guitar, it is this instrument on which
it sounds superior.
from the original compositions for two guitars the transcriptions
are generally sound. The one exception is Scherzino Mexicano
by Ponce (14) This particular arrangement for two guitars adds nothing to the
original for solo guitar and the rendition per se is
rather dull and lifeless. Compare the version by Alirio Diaz
(EMI HQS 1175)for solo guitar, and this point becomes even more
conspicuous. One gets the impression that this piece was added
as an after thought to “pad-out” the Ponce repertory.
balance the dazzling renditions of Piazzolla ,  are
highlights of the disc.
technical and musical excellence in duo guitar playing, complemented
by an enjoyable programme, this new disc is recommended listening.