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ClassicsOnline Home » Guitar Duo Recital: ChromaDuo - GOSS, S. / PIERCE, C.W. / DYENS, R. (Hidden Waters)
Described by Classical Guitar Review as “nothing short of inspirational”, this début recording by Tracy Anne Smith and Rob MacDonald unveils a refreshing and innovative programme of works by some of the most exciting living composers of our time. Stephen Goss’s contrasting miniatures in The Raw and the Cooked reference musical greats from Django Reinhardt to Astor Piazzolla, and Still the Sea is a homage to Toru Takemitsu. Christopher William Pierce’s mellifluous sound world explores the sensual, the ornate and the spectacular. Following his innovative and rhythmic Niterói, Roland Dyens brings us home with the succulently melodic Comme des Grands.
By Michael Vrzal
Goss • Pierce • Dyens
Stephen Goss (b. 1964)
Le Cru et le Cuit • Still the Sea
Le Cru et le Cuit (The Raw and the Cooked) is a set of highly contrasting miniatures written for the Hand-Dupré Duo. Most of the pieces make reference to other music; sometimes these borrowings are near the surface (in the raw), and at other times hidden deep in the texture of the music (cooked). For instance, Hot is written in the style of Django Reinhardt, The Raw is loosely based on the guitar style of Allan Holdsworth and Malabar Hill is built from snippets of a Mahavishnu Orchestra track. Elsewhere, The Hotel Kempinksi uses part of a David Byrne groove and The Ajman is infused with Arabic influences. Tango Brawl is an homage to Astor Piazzolla, including a passage where one player plays a direct quote of the opening of his Tango Suite while the other interjects with complementary figurations.
The set can be played complete, or any number of movements can be played in nearly any order, as long as different players take on the two solo movements. On this recording ChromaDuo presents nine movements from the continuum of styles that is The Raw and the Cooked.
Still the Sea, written for ChromaDuo, is another homage—this time to the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. Its title makes references both to his piece Toward the Sea for guitar and alto flute, and is a triple play on words: first, regarding his continuing influence in the classical music world, second, his musical style hallmarked by a sense of gentleness as opposed to goal-oriented movement, and third, the stilling of his voice after his death from cancer in 1996. Its three movements are loosely based on what Takemitsu stated as his prime influences: Debussy, Nature and Duke Ellington. The Black River references impressionist harmonies and cascading rhythms; Silent Pool is the most direct homage to Takemitsu’s own writing style, and Fire Water explodes with jazz-inflected energy.
Christopher William Pierce (b. 1974)
Adagio and Fugue • Three Pieces for Two Guitars
In 2006, after many years without a piano, I came into possession of an orphaned upright. The following months were spent reacquainting myself with the instrument and its magnificent repertoire, particularly Bach’s Preludes and Fugues and Debussy’s Études. Out of these rich and varied harmonies emerged my first guitar duo, Adagio and Fugue, in which I strove, in part, to marry these traditional sonorities to some of the more sensual sounds and adventurous techniques of the modern classical guitar. The thematic material of the Adagio is spare, yet develops into ornate figuration, while the Fugue transmogrifies the formal elements of Bach’s flights into a surreal soundscape.
Three Pieces for Two Guitars continues my exploration into the minds of these two composers and adds a third: György Ligeti, who is nearly universally beloved among classical musicians and whose works were made known to the public through their use in Stanley Kubrick’s films: 2001: A Space Odyssey; The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut. The second movement was sparked by the sixth piece of Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata (1951–53): 11 Stücke für Klavier, Allegro un poco capriccioso. The final movement is based on Bach’s Prelude in B minor (arranged by Siloti), and was inspired by a particularly stunning performance by Russian pianist Emil Gilels.
Christopher William Pierce
Roland Dyens (b. 1955)
Niterói • Comme des grands
Comme des Grands was composed for a commission from the Conservatoire de Musique de Brest Métropole Océane, in Brittany. As such, the three-movement collection is meant to introduce less-experienced players to some of the most artistic and musical elements of the guitar. Here ChromaDuo makes the case that these highly-melodic ‘songs’ merit attention for their musical content alone; a unique balance of child-like innocence, expressing grown-up sentiments: nostalgia, humour, regret, hope, and resolve.
Written for ChromaDuo, Niterói—“hidden waters” in Tupi—is inspired by the Brazilian city of the same name, located across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro. The dedicatee of the work, Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer (103 years of age the day of the completion of this duo) is one of the most celebrated figures in the history of modern architecture. Between 1991 and 1996 he created the famous MAC (Museu de Arte Contemporânea) on the coastline of Niterói.
The composition, Niterói, reflects this juxtaposition of sleek modern art set into the natural splendour of Brazil’s eastern seaboard. Written in Brazil, its outer sections vibrate unmistakably with the syncopated rhythms of Brazilian contemporary life, while the central section features the most exceptionally intimate, yet universally beloved, of Brazil’s musical output: the saudade.
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