Red Maids’ Performing Arts Centre
Saturday 23rd November 2019
It pays to get out and about. BCGS members Barry Corbett and Vince Smith saw the Copenhagen Guitar Duo play at the Dillington Guitar Festival last year, and agreed that they duo had to be invited to the Classical Guitar Society’s Concert Series. Martin Buono and Allan Sjølin, still young men, have already been a duo for nearly 20 years. They applied to and graduated from the Royal Danish Academy as a duo, and have been touring together, teaching and working in music education projects ever since.
From the outset tonight, the power of communication between the two players, the quality of their arrangements and their remarkable technique, was clear. The two guitars shared call and response passages, melody and supporting voices, with each player’s personality giving a slightly different touch to the music. Their adaptations of Albéniz’s Suite Española were lyrical, and sensitively understood in their Spanishness. Many of us had not heard the full set of 8 of Granados’ Valses Poéticos, a formidable suite of Parisian-influenced pieces that the Duo dealt with effectively over its entire length; a novel treat. The verve of the duo continued into Falla’s Danza as they gave a high-powered and high-precision rendition that made great use of the depth and sonority of the instruments’ combined forces. As Allan pointed out, today was Falla’s birthday; he would have been delighted.
The music resumed after the interval in a different vein; the Duo are equally at home in classical style and cool jazz mode. The lilting cascades of Assad’s Canção were a delight, the first of two characteristic Brazilian pieces in the programme.
Thus far, all the music had been arrangements by the Duo, but the Suite Copenhagen is their own composition. It contains elements of all their experience – baroque, minimalism, Latin America and draws on a broad resource of standard and extended technique. In the three Piazzolla pieces that followed, they returned to South America. There was equal challenge and reward in the transposition of Piazzolla’s large band onto two guitars: Zita has wonderful light-and-dark tango story; Tanti Anni Prima is melodic, atmospheric and rich, and Escolaso a light, quick tango step. The Duo worked hard across the fingerboard and the full range of technique to ensure again that all three were bursting with life. The famous Mas Que Nada (with the 6th string in C, the latest in a constant and perfectly-controlled series of re-tunes) was a treat, even including an improvised solo from Martin along its groovy, fast ‘samba novo’ way. The programme ended with the jazz-influenced Cristal; rhythm and technical execution were perfect, with balance and great understanding both of the music and of the audience.
The duo were asked for two encores, in which they revealed yet another facet of their arranging and performance skills with themes from the TV series Game of Thrones and the film of Che Guevara’s travels in South America, The Motorcyle Diaries.
The variety of music tonight was wonderful, and the musicality, technique and success of the Duo’s arrangements of the music a delight.
From Suite Española: Isaac Albéniz (1860–1909)
Valses Poéticos Enrique Granados (1867–1916)
Danza from “La Vida Breve” Manuel de Falla (1876–1946)
Canção Sérgio Assad (b. 1952)
Suite Copenhagen Copenhagen Guitar Duo (f. 1986)
Astor Piazzolla (1921–1991)
Tanti Anni Prima
Mas Que Nada Sérgio Mendes (b. 1941)
Cristal César Camargo (b. 1943)