Review of the OTHER VOICES 20th Century Music for Flute and Guitar by Donato D’Antonio and Vanni Montanari, RMN Music Ltd., 2016
Donato D’Antonio and Vanni Montanari are back with a new album almost ten years after their tribute to the sculptor ceramist from Faenza Carlo Zauli in 2007. What remains to us after all this time? For sure the skills of the performers, the image of a work of Zauli, the Cubo Alato present in the CD cover, and the same Toward the Sea byToru Takemitsu who was already present on the previous album.
For the rest, this new album shows a different setting: all passages, except the Takemitsu one, were recorded “live” in three different moments in the United States and Italy between 2010 and 2014.
The scores included in this record draw on the repertoire of the twentieth century, with a particular interest in little-known Japanese composers. Besides Takemitsu, we have the presence of the great koto master Michio Miyagi: Harunoumi (The spring sea), a master piece that was very successful in the world in 1932 when it was recorded together with Renée Chemet in a version for violin and koto, where the part for shakuhachi he had been transcribed from the same French violinist. It’s a piece in ternary form that ideally describe the play of seagulls over the ocean waves. Japanese too is the Other voices, the score that gives the title to the cd, taken from Noon City Suite by the eclectic composer Tohru Aki, very active for television and cinema.
Terry Riley’s Cancion Desierto (1986), in this passage we don’t find the “usual” minimalist Riley, but al lot of references to Hispanic music and Indian melodies (the introduction verbatim quotes a theme of master Krishna Batt). Increasingly L’Aube Enchantee Indian by Ravi Shankar, composed in 1976 originally for flute and harp, and based on the morning raga Mian-Ki-Todi, performed the first time by Jean Pierre Rampal. Always the East but of a different latitude with the Armenian Song of the teacher and philosopher George Gurdjieff, author of the remarkable collection titled Asian Songs and Rhythms transcribed and arranged by his student A. Thomas de Hartmann.
The other three songs are all works by Western composers: Jaan Raats, Estonian composer linked to music for film, Jindrich Feld, Czech composer who also wrote a Sonata for Guitar (1974), and Carl Nielsen, composer, Danish violinist and conductor, best known for his six symphonies and his concert for flute, clarinet and violin and orchestra.
The Four Pieces (Folk Melody, Humoresque, Mignon and Elf Dance) by Carl Nielsen, composed in 1890 show, as you can guess from the titles, a Nordic and fable character, here are revisited in the transcription for flute and guitar by Bent Larsen and Jan Sommer, having been originally composed for piano. The two Dance Lyrique and Dance Barbare by Jindřich Feld have been composed for flute and guitar and are characterized by the marked contrast between their lyrical melodies and an almost obsessive rhyth. More heterogeneous, twe can quote baroque themes, cluster, popular tunes, pop rhythms, instead is Nameless Music op. 107 composed in 1999 by Jaan Raats, the first of series of “unnamed” musical pieces with a decidedly anti-romantic style.
I think this record an excellent job for several reasons, the skill of the performers, the intelligence in the choice these passages so different between them but still characterized by intense atmospheres and the courage in proposing a little-known repertoire. The duo flute guitar is definitely an approach able to give great satisfaction to both musicians and listeners, it’s good to see their repertoire growing and expanding, I hope that this will lead more and more guitarists to emerge from the solo recital stereotypical image in favor of greater openness to collaboration with other instruments and towards the birth of a new chamber music.