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Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya (guitar duo)
rec. live, 21 July 1962 & 20 July 1963, Orford Arts Centre, Quebec, Canada.
DOREMI DHR-8059 [56:14]

There are occasions when the reviewing of recorded music is a privilege; the review CD is a case in point.

This CD is not usual, not having been made in a studio for retail distribution as a discrete entity. Six of the tracks are from live concerts which Presti and Lagoya gave at the Orford Arts Centre near Magog, Quebec between 1962 and 1963. The remaining track, recorded in June 1963, comes from a French radio broadcast of that date. Because the original recordings were intended only for radio broadcast, the compilation includes verbal commentary on each section of the recording.

The husband-wife duo Presti and Lagoya first met in 1951 when both were following a solo career. Born in 1924, Ida Presti was a true child prodigy who gave her first public recital in 1933. Many consider her to be the greatest guitarist of the 20th century. Born in Egypt, Alexandre Lagoya was five years Presti’s junior. By the time he was 19, Lagoya had given an estimated 500 concerts throughout the Middle East.

As a duo they gave their first recital in 1952. That career blossomed, and from 1955 they decided to abandon solo endeavours, and put all their energies into working as a duo. During a concert tour of the USA, and in the midst of their brilliant global career, Ida Presti suddenly passed away on April 24, 1967. This tragedy was attributed to lung cancer, a consequence of her smoking habit.

In an era when there was distinguishable individuality amongst concert guitarists, Presti and Lagoya were unique. The magnificent tone they produced, their superb musicality, and exploration of the wide range of sounds of which the guitar is capable, were the hallmarks of this remarkable duo.

Alexandre Lagoya made many expert transcriptions and arrangements for duo guitars. His musical taste and expertise led him to explore many avenues of hitherto neglected repertory opportunities for the guitar. Having listened to hundreds of recorded guitar programmes, including solo, duet, concerto, and ensemble, there is nothing that can quite compare with their rendition of Handel’s Chaconne from HWV 435 (track 5). Lagoya’s arrangement explores every capability of the guitar’s potential as a “miniature orchestra” (L. van Beethoven) and in the hands of the duo it is a veritable masterpiece for the guitar.

Sadly, not all the concert programme items from which this CD was compiled are available. Few Presti and Lagoya recordings exist and those which do have been relatively hard to access, although nowadays assisted by the internet.

This release is part of Doremi’s Legendary Treasures series, and no comment would be more apt in relation to this splendid CD, a musical and historical treasure.

Zane Turner
Wolff Jacob LAUFFENSTEINER (1676-1754): Sonata in A [11:45]
Jean-Ives DANIEL-LESUR (1908-2002): Elegie [5:58]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741): Concerto in D (from Op 3 No 9) [9:28]
Fernando SOR (1778-1839): Encouragement- Fantasie a deux guitares, Op 34 [9:21]
George Frederick HANDEL (1685-1759): Chaconne in G HWV 435 [12:18]
Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909): Tango Op 65 No2 [4:58]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963): Improvisation No 12 [2:26]



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