About this Recording
8.573761 - Cello and Guitar Recital: Dúo Villa-Lobos (Music for Cello and Guitar from South America and Eastern Europe)

from South America and Eastern Europe
Dušan Bogdanović • Jaime M. Zenamon • Sérgio Assad • Atanas Ourkouzonov • Edwin Guevara


Over recent years a number of composers have become fascinated by the musical possibilities of combining the timbres and textures of cello and guitar. The blend of bowed and plucked strings provides a rich chemistry of tonal qualities as well as a challenge in terms of balancing the dynamic qualities of each instrument in melodic and harmonic equilibrium. The compositions selected here represent some of the most ambitious and technically demanding aspects of this genre of ensemble music.

Dušan Bogdanović, born in Yugoslavia, composer, improviser and guitarist, studied composition and orchestration at Geneva Conservatory with P. Wissmer and A. Ginastera, and guitar performance with M.L. Sao Marcos. He made his Carnegie Hall debut recital in 1977 and has toured throughout the world participating in chamber ensembles as well as giving solo recitals. He has been appointed to teaching posts at the Geneva Conservatory and the University of Southern California and is presently engaged by the San Francisco Conservatory. His compositions explore diverse musical idioms in a synthesis of classical, jazz and ethnic music.

Quatre pièces intimes are dedicated to Valter Dešpalj (b. 1947), the celebrated Croatian cellist and professor at the Zagreb Academy of Music. Prière is marked Largo tranquillo, bringing together cello and guitar in a reflective prayer. The lyrical lament played by the cello is contrasted against a gently dissonant guitar accompaniment. Mouvement, to be played Allegro molto, begins as a vigorous perpetual motion with rapidly changing time signatures. This gives way to syncopated harmonics from the guitar. The piece concludes with a resumption of the rhythmic impetus.

La Harpe de David opens with double-stopped cello harmonics. The guitar begins pensively and the cello, in reflective mood, joins in. The piece continues with a sad lament from the cello and a final harp-like arpeggio from the guitar. The final movement, Chant, involves a variety of shifting time-signatures from seven/sixteen to two/eight, nine/ten, and so on. This projects itself as highly dynamic rhythmic subtlety pressing onwards in exciting patterns.

Jaime Mirtenbaum Zenamon, born in La Paz, Bolivia, a classical guitarist and prolific composer, studied guitar and composition in Israel, Spain, and Portugal, as well as in South America. From 1980 to 1992 he taught at the Berlin Academy of Music. During this time, Zenamon co-founded the music publishers Edition Margaux. He now lives in Curitiba, Brazil. His guitar compositions cover the entire spectrum of the instrument from advanced recital pieces to works for guitar students.

Reflexões No. 6 (1986) begins with Fluido, a movement which opens with a brilliant arpeggiated guitar accompaniment over which the cello performs an expressive melody. The guitar then moves to an episode with rhythmic chords to partner a new cello theme. Finally the cello plays a third theme, concluding with rhythmic elements reminiscent of the middle section. Doloroso, an elegant dance in three/four, introduces in its middle section a guitar tremolo with a pizzicato bass accompaniment. The intensity increases in the concluding part with truly doloroso feeling. Vivissimo is a tarantella-type dance in perpetual motion. The rhythmic pulse is relieved in a short episode where the cello articulates a poignant melody before the dance returns with energetically strummed guitar chords.

The brothers Sérgio and Odair Assad, born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1952 and 1956 respectively, are not only one of the top guitar duos in the world but also eminent solo recitalists with international careers. They studied in their formative years in Rio de Janeiro with the guitarist / lutenist Monina Távora, a student of Segovia. Their virtuosity has inspired many composers including Piazzolla, Riley, Gnattali, Nobre, Koshkin, Dyens, Morel, Krieger and Mignone, to dedicate pieces to them. Sérgio Assad, acknowledged as one of the finest contemporary composers for the guitar, has a long list of works in his catalogue.

Jobiniana No 4 (2002) is an extended work in one movement. An introductory section establishes the guitar and cello partnership until a short guitar solo moment quietens the mood. With the cello’s return, the pace increases in a corporate episode of great vitality. A further four bars of solo guitar ushers in a Molto espressivo interlude where a lyrical guitar accompaniment supports a lyrical cello theme. An energetic accelerando poco a poco steadily increasing in volume leads to a rumbustious dialogue between cello and guitar. A contrasting passionate episode ensues with delicate colours from each instrument. Eventually a series of responses between the instruments progresses to a thrilling accelerando coda.

Atanas Ourkouzounov, Bulgarian composer and guitarist, first studied guitar with Dimitri Doitchnov in Sofia. From 1992 he studied with Arnaud Dumond and Olivier Chassain in Paris, being awarded a First Prize for guitar from the Paris Conservatoire in 1997. In 1998 he won the Fronimo Publishing Suivi Zerboni Prize. To date he has written many guitar compositions including solos, ensemble works, and two concertos.

Tanzologia (2000) is a progressive work of considerable technical variety. Contempotango, the first movement, begins with rhythmic harmonics from the guitar against glissandi cello effects. The cello than performs a lyrical melody supported by a sophisticated guitar accompaniment. The rhythmic impetus increases with the cello played pizzicato with percussive techniques from the guitar. The movement modulates through distant keys before evolving into a dynamic coda. In contrast Valse-Slave marks out the waltz rhythm with a lightly scored opening. The atmosphere throughout is ethereal, a dance of the spirit rather than the body. Bulgarian Rock has the time signature of eleven/eight, creating the aura of indigenous folk culture. A middle section intensifies the mood with strummed guitar chords against an intricate cello theme. A virtuosic coda concludes the work in a brilliant blend of rhythmic and tonal effects.

Edwin Guevara, guitarist, composer, arranger, and conductor, from Bogotá, Colombia, began music studies as a child under his father’s tuition. He later studied guitar, composition, and choral conducting, at the National Conservatoire of Colombia and at the Conservatorio Superior de Música del Liceu, in Barcelona, Spain. He has since pursued a very successful career as recitalist (winning over sixty major prizes for performance), recording artist, and composer. Edwin Guevara has been appointed as Maestro of Guitar and Guitar Orchestral Director at the Pedagogic National University of Colombia.

Fantasy for cello and guitar was composed in August, 2015 and premiered by the Duo Villa-Lobos at the Seventh Guitar Week of the Bank of the Republic of Colombia. The work overall is dedicated to Cecilia Palma, the composer’s wife. Individual movements are dedicated respectively to the composer’s mother, Elisa, his sister Deysy, and his father, Roberto.

The composer has written the following introduction to the work: “The first movement, Providence, evokes the motion of the waves at Del Mar de la Isla, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The second movement, Gràcia, refers to a suburb of Barcelona. Its musical structure begins with solos from each instrument in the style of a baroque chaconne, ending in the manner of Spanish renaissance variations. The central section includes Latin-American rhythms including the Vidala, Venezuelan waltz, Joropo, and the Colombian Pasillo and Guabina, with a recapitulation of the initial theme of the chaconne. The third movement, Cantalar, celebrates the municipality of Anna in the province of Valencia, Spain. This involves great virtuosity and a continuous dialogue between the two instruments involving Latin-American rhythms such as the Colombian Bambuco and Currulao, Milonga, Chacarera, and the Malambo from Uruguay and Argentina. Minimalist rhythmic transitions are featured here as well as a percussive episode combining all the rhythms presented in this movement. The recapitulation brings back the contrapuntal brilliance of the opening, culminating with a brief percussive section leading to a grand fortissimo Bartók pizzicato. This is the composition’s first recording.

Graham Wade

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