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Track listing below review
Zoco Duo (Jacob Cordover (guitar): Laura Karney (oboe and cor anglais))
rec. February 2014, Holy Trinity Church, Weston, Hertfordshire, UK
CALA CACD77018 [66:22]

Zoco Duo is a Barcelona-based team making its debut album on Cala. Guitarist Jacob Cordover and Laura Karney, who plays oboe and cor anglais, have constructed a largely Franco-Spanish recital with the transcriptive arts very much to the fore. The zoco incidentally is the Spanish word for the Arabic ‘marketplace’ – quite the mot juste given the eclectic programming involved.
 
Thus the disc opens with Piazzolla’s Café 1930 and its alternately melancholy and urgent sections offer plenty of opportunities for characterisation from the two instrumentalists – the tangy chordal guitar supporting the lyric oboe in its refulgent sections. It’s also good to hear one of Piazzolla’s well-known but not too well-known numbers. For Falla, Laura Karney dons the cor anglais and she manages to evoke darker, more sultry sounds, with clean articulation and good ensemble. The duo has adapted and performed a lot of nineteenth-century operatic music and that has held them in good stead for the vocalised legato of Asturiana and the melancholy of Jota. Naturally, Cordover is in his element in the flamenco flair of Polo. They select three of Ibert’s Histoires, deftly chosen to reveal different facets both in terms of the music’s witty character and the sonority that the duo can evoke, not least the dapper braying in Le petit âne blanc.
 
In 1988 Rodrigo took his famous melody for the Concierto de Aranjuez and fashioned a song out of it, refashioned as Aranjuez, ma pensée. Originally conceived for flute and tertz guitar (a guitar tuned higher than normal), Mauro Giuliani’s Grand Potpourri works well for the oboe and guitar, its bel canto warmth and curlicues investigating themes by Rossini and Donizetti avidly. This domestic form of music-making translates well to this equally lyrical combination. We’ve not finished with the tango, however, as Maxímo Diego Pujol’s quite urgent Pompeya from the Suite Buenos Aires provides that in spades, part of the Tango Nuevo vogue started by Piazzolla. It forms a good contrast with Fernando Carlos Tavolaro’s Milonga No.5 ‘dell’emigrante’ which is altogether more melancholy and again heard through the duskier prism of the oboe. Ravel prefaces the final piece, more Rodrigo, in the form of the Tres canciones, one song from 1935 and two from 1951, originally for voice and piano but here making quite an impression in their new guise.
 
They end a sympathetically recorded and warmly played recital.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 
Track listing
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)

Café 1930 (Histoire du tango) [7:14]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Siete canciones populares españolas (1914) [14:23]
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)
Histoires (1920-21) [7:31]
Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Aranjuez, ma pensée (1988) [6:07]
Tres canciones: I. Coplas del pastor enamorado (1935) [3:33]; II. En Jerez de la Frontera (1951) [1:16]; Adela (1951) [2:20]
Mauro GIULIANI (1781-1829)
Grand Potpourri Op. 126 [12:00]
Maximo Diego PUJOL (b.1957)
Pompeya (Suite Buenos Aires) [3:50]
Fernando Carlos TAVOLARO (b.1953)
Milonga No. 5 'dell'emigrante' [5:02]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Pièce en forme de habanera (1907) [3:02]