Farfare reviews Duo Sonidos

June 14, 2012

PIAZZOLLA Histoire du Tango. BROTONS Tre Divertimenti. MORALES-CASO Volavérunt: Homenaje a Goya. DE FALLA Siete Canzones Populares Españolas  —  Duo Sonidos  —  DUOSONIDOS.COM (53:16)

The members of Duo Sonidos are guitarist Adam Levin and violinist William Knuth. Both of these young musicians have won significant prizes for their performances. This compact disc, which was released in 2010, has already won first prize at the Luys Milan International Chamber Music Competition in Valencia, Spain. The first piece they play on it, Astor Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango, is the composer’s recounting of the history of the famous Argentine dance. His compositions brought about a new style, which he termed nuevo tango. Soon, the dance began to include elements of both jazz and classical music. Piazzolla wrote this music for flute and guitar but, like many other pieces, it was easily transcribed for violin and guitar. The movements: Bordel 1900, Cafe 1930, Nightclub 1960, and Concert D’Aujourd’hui, show the progress of tango through the twentieth century. Levin and Knuth play it in a manner that attempts to imitate the sounds of the composer’s instrument, the bandoneon, paired with a guitar of the time and it works quite well. If you want to hear the flute and guitar version, a fine one is available with Marc Grauwels and the Astoria Ensemble on the Fuga Libera label. Cuban born Salvador Brotons, a most prolific composer who lives in Spain, wrote his Tre Divertimenti (Three Divertimentos) for either flute and guitar or violin and guitar. Each of the movements, marked molto allegro, adagio lamentoso, and con fuoco is extremely well played on this compact disc. There is another recording of them by Alex Garrobé and Ala Voronkova but I don't find Voronkova's violin playing as beautiful as Knuth's.

Volavérunt (They Have Flown), is Eduardo Morales-Caso's homage to Francisco Goya (1746-1828) and this is its premiere recording. His piece is a musical version of Goya's painting. It goes very well with a visual inspection of the Goya work, which is unfortunately not shown in the material with the disc. It is, however, easily available online. After listening to some fascinating tangos and some more serious modern music, we can float back down to earth on Spanish composer Manuel de Falla’s Siete Canciones Populares Españolas (Seven Popular Spanish Folksongs). He wrote them in 1914 and dedicated them to a charming lady of the time, Madame Ida Godebska. Although they have texts and were written to be sung with piano accompaniment, these pieces do very well when played on violin and guitar. El Paño Moruno (The Moorish Cloth) is a sad song with Moorish overtones. Coincidentally, a part of the melody is somewhat reminscent of the tune, Three Blind Mice. The Seguidilla Murciana is a charming dance tune that leads into the consolation-seeking Asturiana with its telling rhythms. The Jota is a familiar dance tune that tells of love. It is followed by the soft lullaby, Nana. At the end, De Falla brings us back from the day dreams of  he has inspired with the delightful music of his Cancìon (Song) and the fiery flamenco of Polo where the guitar shines in its opening solo. Sonidos plays them extremely well. If you want to hear them sung, however, you might want to sample the Harmonia Mundi recording with Victoria de los Angeles. The sound on the Sonidos disc is clear and the instruments are up front, but the violin is always louder than the guitar. Maria Nockin