This fine CD is evidence that energy, enthusiasm and crowd-funding can work. As someone who works at the educational institute from which these two musicians have graduated I’ve followed their progress for some years, but as ever I am impressed by the professionalism with which they have created this product. By any objective standard this is an excellent recording and a strikingly impressive release, with well-written and informative booklet notes and a bright, uncomplicated design, the only thing this package lacks is a barcode. For now, availability is exclusively via the duo’s website, though downloading is likely to be an option in the future.
Recorded with plenty of air around the instruments in an attractive but not overly-resonant church acoustic, the music here sounds as good as you can imagine it sounding. The duos are played here on soprano and alto instruments, so you have an effective dialogue and distinct character between the instruments. The content is “a stroll through the styles that flourished in the Baroque period”, so the more familiar German style of Telemann can be compared with the Parisian ‘Galant’ trend expressed by less well-known composers such as Benoit Guillemant, about whom very little is known. Other rarities are the Duos Op. 4
by Heinrich Simrock, who was a colleague of Beethoven in the electoral orchestra of Bonn. The Duos
were written for two flageolets and see a joining of soprano instruments in the recording, adding interesting variety of colour. These are highly representative of the kinds of piece written for domestic use amongst amateurs and are still highly entertaining.
The Schifanoia Duo doesn’t go in for extravagantly ornamented playing but have all of the expressive tricks of their instruments at their disposal, used sparingly but effectively at cadences or to bring particular focus to specific points. With highly musical phrasing and an entirely natural flow to these performances this CD is a very pleasant listen, and there is no shortage of interest in the actual pieces. With extensive tours in their native Brazil and regular concerts in Europe we are likely to hear more from the Schifanoia Duo, especially since we have yet to hear zany of their Brazilian chorinho
and other repertoire, so there is plenty of mileage to be had from keeping an eye on these remarkably skilled performers.