From Moment to Moment
Paulo BELLINATI (b.1950)
Antoine de LHOYER (1768-1852)
Duo Concertant, op. 31 no.1 (1814) [15:05]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
*Prelude, Fugue and Variation [9:29]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
*Sonata K. 234 [4:16]
*Sonata K. 115 [3:35]
Eric PENICAUD (b.1952)
Little Suite for Children [6:00]
Yann TIERSEN (b.1970)
*Three Pieces (from the film 'Amélie') [7:34]
Scott JOPLIN (1867-1917)
*Maple Leaf Rag [3:08]
(*transcription for guitar, by Matanya Ophée (Franck); Gray-Pearl Duo (Scarlatti); Laforest (Tiersen); Ferenc Fodor (Joplin))
Duo Transatlantique (Maud Laforest, Benjamin Beirs (guitars))
rec. October 2011; July 2009. DDD
PRIVATE ISSUE no number [57:41]
This CD, originally released in 2011, is the second by Duo Transatlantique, two young guitarists who also have solo careers: Maud Laforest from France and Benjamin Beirs from the USA. Laforest's latest solo disc was released at the end of last year to critical acclaim - see review.
Their recital here is a blue-sky, warm-breeze collection of originals and transcriptions from the 18th century to the modern day, a Gallic feast of elegant, melodious pieces with a dash of American flamboyance, sure to appeal to all tastes.
There is something magical about the guitar that gives it the ability to turn transcriptions of music written for different forces into what sounds like original works. Such is the case here with Franck's Prelude, Fugue and Variation, delicately arranged by Matanya Ophée; with the two Sonatas by Scarlatti, their underlying Mediterranean character strikingly revealed in these transcriptions by Julian Gray and Ronald Pearl. Even Joplin's famous Maple Leaf Rag seems made for the guitar at least as much as for the piano!
There is no requirement for a knowledge of French cinema to appreciate the remaining arrangement: wistful melodies plucked from the 2001 Jean-Pierre Jeunet film 'Amélie' and made into a lovely suite by Laforest - in this instance an improvement on Yann Tiersen's somewhat clichéd soundtrack.
The well-chosen original works are just as compelling. Brazilian guitarist Paulo Bellinati's Jongo is a memorable opener, not only for the amazing seventy-second percussion duet that erupts just over halfway through! Its subtly South American colours and rhythms will please audiences all over the world. Guitar virtuoso Antoine de Lhoyer was France's answer to his great Italian contemporary Mauro Giuliani, and one of history's most prolific composers for two guitars. His Duo Concertant is a delightful work, mellifluous and imaginative, and really deserving of greater exposure. Finally, though the music is eminently approachable, the title of Eric Pénicaud's Little Suite for Children is slightly misleading - these four very short pieces are not simple nursery tunes but rather impressionistic descriptions of a young child's day - 'Waking', 'Playing', 'From moment to moment' and 'Dreaming'. Pénicaud has dedicated the work to Laforest and Beirs.
Duo Transatlantique give superb performances from beginning to end, full of warmth, detail and relaxed energy, both individually and as a pair. Their ten years together has evidently given them an intimate understanding of each other's technique and phraseology, and together they radiate an listener-pleasing authority and enjoyment.
Sound quality is excellent: warm, intimate and well-balanced. The album is available through Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes and some other outlets, with wildly differing prices. The only disappointment, aside from the sub-hour running time, is the digipak case, which comes without a booklet and thus provides almost no information about the music: the track-listing is virtually all there is. The side given over to a bilingual awards-ceremony-style list of people Duo Transatlantique would like to thank is a waste of space - they have all surely been thanked before, whereas listeners will curse the lack of basic background or biography, really a common decency to living composers in particular.
Collected reviews and contact at artmusicreviews.co.uk
Radiates an enjoyable listener-pleasing authority.