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Kenneth Keaton
American Record Guide, July 2009

The performers, Franz and Debora Halasz, are husband and wife and have performed together since 1993. Franz is an American-born guitarist based in Germany. Debora is Brazilian, with a recording of the complete Villa-Lobos piano music among her many credits. They play marvelously together, full of joy and good humor—and that’s an absolute necessity for these pieces.

Now, for the question: guitar and piano? Well, it works, and I don’t think it just an engineer’s trick. The piano is a modern piano, not a period one (where balance problems might be less acute), and Debora plays with a full but restrained tone. Franz’s tone can be a bit twangy, but by the end of the recording I came to feel that this was the best way to achieve a good balance. Piano is always the stronger voice, but the guitar can be heard, and solo passages are frequent.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2009

Though all but forgotten today, Ferdinando Carulli was the most fashionable guitarist working in Paris in the early part of the 19th century, and the first to write a complete classical guitar method. A most gifted virtuoso who became a highly respected pedagog as well as a prolific composer. Most of his output involved the guitar and included duos, trios, chamber ensembles and concertos. Always commercially aware, he explored the guitar and piano duo, a particularly marketable pairing among Parisian audiences. Like most composers of his time, he created popularity by incorporating in his works tunes from famous operas. Opening with an adaptation of Beethoven’s Variations on Ein Madchen oder Weibchen from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, it is the piano that has the major rôle. Greater equality comes in the Duo on themes of Rossini, Ferdinando working here with his guitar-playing son, Gustavo. They also combined in the Duo in D major, though by what extent each contributed is unclear. The most substantial score comes from 1814 with the Grand Duo Concertante in A major,its three extended movements almost in the form of a concerto. The three-movement Nocturne is a lively score and unlike music that came later with that title. The disc ends with three showpieces using Rossini themes here taken at leisurely tempos. Franz and Debora Halasz are the persuasive guitar and piano duo, Franz’s nimble left hand bringing a nice clarity to his playing. Strangely, many of the technical difficulties are given to, and met by, Brazilian-born Debora who shows why she is enjoying such a successful solo career. The recording made by Bavarian Radio could have been a little more generous in their balance towards Franz.

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