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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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Gruber and Maklar - Works for Two Guitars
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Valse Poeticos: 1. Introduction [1.20]; 2. Nr. 1 Melodioso [1:16]; 3. Nr.2 Tempo di Valse noble [1:20]; 4. Nr.3 Tempo di Valse lento [1:34]; 5. Nr. 4 Allegro umoristico, ritmico [0:41]; 6. Nr 5 Allegretto [1:38]; 7. Nr 6 Quasi ad libitum [1:00] 8. Nr. 7 Vivo [0:43]; 9. Epilog Presto [1:12]; 10 Nr.1 Melodioso [1:14]
Manuel Maria PONCE (1882-1948)
11. Scherzino Maya [0:55]; 12. Intermezzo [2:30]; 13. Scherzino [1:54]; 14. Scherzino Mexicano [2:21]
Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968)
Sonatina Canonica Op. 196: 15. I Mosso [3:04]; 16 II Tempo di Siciliane [3:29]; 17 III Fandango en Rondeau Ritmico e deciso [2:31]
Leo BROUWER (b.1939)
Micro Piezas: 18. I Tranquillo [1:38]; 19. II Allegro vivace [1:20]; 20. III Vivacissimo muy ritmico [0:57]; 21. IV [1:58]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
22. Lo que vendra [4:23] Tango Suite (23. Allegro [4:59]; 24. Andante rubato, melancolico [4:54]; 25. Allegro [6:26])
Christian Gruber and Peter Maklar, guitar duo.
rec. 9-12 Feb 17-18 March 1993, Tonstudio van Geest, Sandhausen. DDD
SIGNUM CD SIG X43-00 [55:54]

 

 

“Nothing 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.

No 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.

While 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.

The 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).

Christian 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.

All 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 achieve this.

Music 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.

Any 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.

Aside 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.

On balance the dazzling renditions of Piazzolla [23], [25] are highlights of the disc.

Representing technical and musical excellence in duo guitar playing, complemented by an enjoyable programme, this new disc is recommended listening.

Zane Turner

 

 



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