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Music for Two Guitars - Vol. 2
Fuga Elegiaca (1967) [4:33]
Les Guitares Bien Tempérées (The Well Tempered Guitars) Op. 199 (1962) [49.43]
Brasil Guitar Duo (João Luiz and Douglas Lora)
rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. 27 - 30 June 2007
NAXOS 8.570779 [54:16]
Experience Classicsonline

This CD is the second by Naxos featuring the music for two guitars by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, an Italian who eventually settled in California as a result of Mussolini’s anti-Jewish edicts. His interest in writing for the guitar stemmed from an introduction to Andrés Segovia at the Venice International Festival in 1932. As a result he composed over one hundred guitar pieces. Some of the finest are for guitar duet where he was inspired by the French duo Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya.

The Fuga Elegiaca of 1967 was written as a response to the passing of Ida Presti at the tragically young age of 43, and also proved to be one of the composer’s last works before his death in March 1968.

Les Guitares Bien Tempérées, (or 24 Preludes and Fugues for Two Guitars) was a landmark in the history of guitar playing, and in a sense, pays tribute to the great J. S. Bach. On this recording we have the last twelve of these - the first twelve being on Volume 1. The keys are selected by using a cycle of rising fifths alternating major and minor keys (the first is no. 13 in G major). These are no mere exercises for the duet but full of melodic invention, and one or two surprises; like the use of the tune ‘I Hear America Singing’ (which to me sounds like the opening of ‘I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’ from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess). He also uses various dance styles and rhythms - Minuet and Trio in no. 13; Bourrée in no. 17; a 6/8 Siciliana in no. 21 - which look back to the Baroque era and J. S. Bach. The use of a guitar duo allows a greater variety of colours and harmonic discords than would be possible with just a single guitar.

The Brasil Guitar Duo give very accomplished rendition of this music, playing with formidable technique and style. I think that they are helped sonically by the fact that the guitars are made by the same maker - Sergio Abreu from Rio de Janeiro. This gives them something I always ‘bang on about’ with choral music - a good blend and integrated sound.

The recorded sound is excellent with the players not too close, and the acoustic not too reverberant adding clarity to the various fugal entries. The booklet gives information on the composer, players, a short description of each piece, and the jewel case insert has a full track listing.

In short, a thoroughly enjoyable and recommendable issue, and one to which I will return regularly.

Arther Smith

see also review by Nick Barnard 


















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