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Traveling Sonata
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

Pavane, Op.50 (arr. M. Karp) (c.1888) [2:51]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Boléro (arr. J. Jouve) (1928) [2:29]
Pièce en forme de habanera (arr. J. Ketchum and P. Segal) (1907) [2:50]
François BORNE (1840-1920)
Fantaisie brillante sur Carmen (arr. J. Jouve) (1900) [11:47]
Erik SATIE (1866-1925)
Gnossienne No.1 (arr. R. Dyens) (c.1890) [3:22]
Gymnopédie No.1 (arr. J. Jouve) (1888) [2:53]
Atanas OURKOUZOUNOV (b.1970)
Sonatine hommage à Theodosii Spassov (1999) [19:00]
Mathias DUPLESSY (b.1972)
Cavalcade [6:03]
Roland DYENS (b.1955)
Traveling Sonata (2007) [9:36]
Viviana Guzmán (flute), Jérémy Jouve (guitar)
rec. 26-27 June 2011, Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California. HDCD.
REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-128 [60:54]

Chilean-born flutist Viviana Guzmán and French guitarist Jérémy Jouve present a rewarding disc, full of beautiful music, performed with care and affection. The programme combines a few transcriptions of classical pieces with new works that are attractive and merit attention.
 
We open with the gentlest and loveliest account of Fauré’s Pavane. The guitar provides the mysterious harp-like arpeggios while the flute is exquisitely tender. This is followed by Ravel’s Bolero, but the contrast is not too brutal, for the playing is sensual rather than aggressive. Two instruments cannot provide the rainbow of colours to which we are accustomed in the orchestral version but since the arrangement is short, only two and a half minutes, it is not missed much. Pièce en forme de habanera is slender and elegant, softly swaying.
 
Borne’s Fantaisie brillante sur Carmen is a collection of all the main tunes from the opera, put together with skill and imagination. The arrangement is colourful and technically demanding while the performance is expressive and dazzling. The guitar does not play a pure accompanying function but has an equal role in the spotlight; this is probably because the work was arranged by Jouve. Satie’s Gnossienne, transcribed for guitar solo, is cool and plaintive. It is followed by a mellow, honey-toned Gymnopédie.
 
The guitarist-composer Atanas Ourkouzonov based his Sonatine on original folk music. As the composer writes in the liner-note, this piece was inspired by the traditional Bulgarian flute player Theodosii Spassov. The flute sound is therefore close to the folk style, without the smoothness of the “classical” flute. The guitar part is more percussive than usual. The sonatine is modern, accessible and attractive. The rhapsodic first movement starts dimly and carefully, before launching into a series of dancing, swinging and singing episodes. The music is rich in motifs and textures, ever-changing, ever-fresh. The slow movement opens in mystery and sadness, and gradually becomes passionate. This is a romance with a long, beautiful melody. The finale frames a sequence of episodes, from quiet and mystic to amorous and wistful in a jumpy, jagged manner. Overall, the sonata is full of beauty that the performers bring out effectively. There is no groundbreaking novelty here but there are many moments of joy. 

The excellent Cavalcade by Matthias Duplessy for guitar solo is inspired by flamenco and by the music of Barrios and Gismonti. The main driving force here is the harmony. The colour is blue-grey and the fast propulsive rhythm mesmerises. This music is very demanding for the guitarist, and sometimes it is hard to believe that only one guitar is playing. The performance by Jouve is technically perfect and emotionally deep. The notes run like rain pounding a roof, in what the composer describes as “the evocation of a race against the passing time”.
 
The last work on the disc is the Traveling Sonata by Tunisia-born composer Roland Dyens. The sonata was created during the composer’s journeys. Its three short movements Bellinzona, Motola and Ankara are named after three cities. The work is full of folk elements, many of them oriental. The main ingredient here is rhythm, with a persistent and often aggressive beat. There isn’t much diversity between the movements. The middle one starts slowly and dreamily, but its middle section sounds like the continuation of the first movement, and the third movement looks like a variation of the first. On a larger scale this could become monotonous but since the movements are short, this uniformity is no problem, especially considering the wealth of intriguing sound effects.
 
The sound of the flute is silky. The guitar comes across as full, spacious and not too hard. The connection between the two musicians is excellent - a real dialogue. The recording quality is very good, setting a good balance between the two instruments and catching their voices clearly. The booklet tells the stories of the creation of the works.
 
This is a disc for repetitive listening. Every track is a joy. I am sure I will return to it often. 

Oleg Ledeniov