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Magellan's Playlist Volume 1: On Tour in China
Fazil SAY (b.1970)
Princess of Lykia [9.57]
John W. DUARTE (1919-2004)
Greek Suite Op.39 [19:27]
Lowell LIEBERMANN (b.1961)
Nocturne - Fantasy [12:57]
Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997)
Divertissement [8:47]
Ren GUANG (1900-1941)
Silver Clouds Chasing the Moon [3:58]
Roland Dyens (b.1955)
Comme des grands [10:34]
Andrew YORK (b.1958)
Evening Dance [4:12]
Athens Guitar Duo
rec. St Bartholomews Church, Brighton, England, June 2013
High-Definition 24 bit 192 kHz Stereo
also available on CD CC6019-2
CLAUDIO RECORDS CR6019-6 (audio) [70:47]

The eye-catching title of this disc derives from the repertoire. First there is the exotic range of music from all over the world such as might parallel the eclecticism of Ferdinand Magellan's world travels during the early 16th century. Second these are some of the works the duo are now taking on a tour of China. This, their premiere CD recording, took place in Brighton, England. To add to the multinational feel, this duo comes from Georgia in the USA. There are extensive and carefully researched notes about all this in the accompanying booklet which is in Spanish as well as English, perhaps as befits a disc of guitar duos which one would expect to sell particularly well in the Spanish-speaking world.
 
There can be no doubt as to the commitment of the Athens Duo to this music. There is a crispness, a colouration and a sense of involvement which is most attractive. As must be a requirement of good duos, they play as if joined at the hip. They treat the unusual, such as the Say and the Duarte pieces, with just as much care as they do the more well known Jean Françaix. They have garnered some justifiably good reviews, gathered on their website at www.athensguitarduo.com To my ears most of this repertoire is mood music. It encourages the mind to wander to pleasant but non-musical thoughts, unlike the music of, say Torroba or Ponce which seems to draw the ear to the music itself. One wishes they had recorded some Bach arrangements to stretch the listener. This might have been intentional and dictated by the requirements of their Eastern tour.
 
What struck me more forcefully than anything else was the startlingly clean and present recording. This is another of Colin Attwell's hi-res efforts recorded with his minimal microphone technique. Once again, it really works well and transports one to the venue most convincingly. Close your eyes and the players are just out there behind your speakers. I have not heard the CD version but I expect that too will sound excellent.
 
The disc will play on universal players or Blu-Ray players and I should note that owing to the very high definition of the recordings the programme spills over onto two DVD-As but is on just one CD. There is no price penalty.
 
Dave Billinge 





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