Monday 21 April 2014

An extremely attractive and entertaining disc of contemporary works for recorder and guitar receive very fine playing from Duo Oldrup/Lauridsen

It is always exciting to hear music from composers that one has not previously heard of. A new disc from Gateway Music features five separate composers, of which I am only familiar with one, Vagn Holmboe. The others, Ole Buck, Christos Farmakis, Frode Barth and Hermann Rechberger, whilst new to me, certainly provide some attractive and fascinating music.
DUOL 001

This disc features the recorder and guitar partnership of Christina Lauridsen and Peter Oldrup who perform under the name of Duo Oldrup/Lauridsen

Danish composer Ole Buck (b.1945)   studied the piano from the age of twelve and achieved a breakthrough at the age of twenty, with Calligraphy for soprano and chamber orchestra. He later studied in Aarhus, producing such works as Fioriture (1965) for flute and piano and Punctuations (1968) for orchestra. Buck's Summertrio (1968) for flute, guitar and cello indicated a new direction for Danish music, often termed the 'new simplicity'. More recently his compositions have included Microcosm (1992) for string quartet, Rivers and Mountains (1994) for orchestra and Flower Ornament Music (2002) for chamber group.

It is his Petite Suite (1994) that features on this release. Part I has a lovely little figuration for descant recorder around the quieter guitar part. Whilst there is often a dissonance to the music, it is always melodic with some lovely variations of the theme before a brilliant coda.

Part II is based on a rising and falling, often repeated motif that is attractive in its simplicity, with a central section that has rapid, alternating solo passages before a particularly attractive coda.

Part III is full of varying rhythms with some attractive drooping phrases for recorder and some delightful writing for both instruments.

This is a delightful little work that receives a lovely performance from these two fine artists.

Christos Farmakis (b.1981) was born in Greece and studied music theory and harmony in Thessaloniki and counterpoint and fugue in Athens. Since 2007 he has lived in Copenhagen, where he studied composition with Hans Abrahamsen, Bent Sørensen, Niels Rosing-Schow and electroacoustic composition with Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg, at the Royal Danish Academy of Music.

Farmakis’ work for bass recorder and guitar is entitled “9” (2008 rev. 2012) and opens on a repeated note from the guitar and is developed as the bass recorder enters with its distinctive character fully brought out in this composer’s writing. Slowly the guitar provides more expansive chords as the recorder rises to its upper range in playing of some virtuosity becoming, at times, quite agitated. Eventually the music falls to a quieter section, again with Lauridsen providing some fine sounds using a variety of techniques. There is much sensitive playing from Oldrup in this atmospheric music, full of lovely sounds.

Van Holmboe (1909-1996) was, of course, one of Denmark’s most distinguished 20th century composers. His music is no stranger to the recording studio but I hadn’t heard his Canto e Danza (1992) before. The first part, Canción de siege opens with a sultry melody for guitar with Oldrup drawing some lovely textures from his instrument. The recorder soon joins adding to the Iberian feel of this piece, apparently inspired by a Spanish harvest song. Both players bring a delicacy to the music in many of the passages. There is a faster central section full of fine dexterous playing from both artists and a final slow variation that again conjures lovely images.

The second of the two pieces is Danza, a lively dance with a melancholy middle section that provides some lovely little flourishes for the recorder before leading to a livelier coda.

Norwegian composer, Frode Barth (b.1968) is widely recognized for his contributions to jazz, contemporary and popular music, performing as guitarist with musicians that have included Oscar Peterson. Barth is a graduate of the Music program at Foss videregående skole and completed the instrumental teaching course at the Barratt Due Institute of Music.

He is now active as a guitarist, composer, educator and producer, and has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, and contributed to and released a number of albums, visited festivals in Norway and around the World, and participated in a number of TV and radio programmes.

The Cure (1992) is in three movements. Both instruments enter in a rhythmically varying melody in Towards the Cure, a very attractive piece to which both performers bring much beauty. Soon the music grows faster with some terrific rhythmic playing before the opening tempo returns to conclude.

Thermal Waters brings more fiercely rhythmic playing from the guitar as the recorder plays a lively theme to which the guitar eventually adds a counterpoint. There is a short solo passage for recorder before many varying rhythmic variations. The heavy strumming from the guitar leads to the coda.

There is a sultry feel to Those who Live in Autumn, with a lovely melody for the recorder and an attractive line for the guitar. There are some fine effects for the guitar as the movement progresses and some terrific ensemble from these two players. This duo brings so much to these pieces, with lovely textures, colour and rhythmic flair.

Barth shows in this work that he has a gift for melody that is combined with terrific rhythms.

Finnish composer, Hermann Rechberger (b.1947) was born in Linz , Austria. He studied graphic art and guitar playing in Linz, before continuing his guitar studies in Zurich and Brussels . He studied composition with Aulis Sallinen at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki as well as electronic music, guitar and oboe. Rechberger has since studied Arab rhythms, for which he wrote the book The Rhythm in Arabian Music in 2003, and djembe playing and African rhythms.

Rechberger has composed five operas and more than 200 works for choir, orchestra, and chamber music ensembles.  His works have won numerous national and international awards.

Rechberger's Eyktime (1990) - In honour of Jacob van Eyck is a tribute to the blind recorder player and composer, Jacob van Eyck (c.1590-1657). The guitar opens with a strong chord and an intricate motif before the recorder joins in an attractive theme full of little trills and outbursts as the piece gains momentum. This is extremely virtuosic music giving both players much to do and drawing on many techniques, full of attractive ideas wonderfully realised by these two players. There is a short solo section for the recorder before the guitar re- joins, Lauridsen drawing some amazing textures in this passage. For all the challenges of this piece these players seem to have enormous fun – they certainly come across as full of life and fun. There are also some fine melodic moments before the music arrives at a fast section with some terrific, rather wild playing from the recorder against a repeated motif for the guitar. But it is the recorder that gets the final say.

There is never a dull moment in this piece.

This is an extremely attractive and entertaining disc with very fine playing from Duo Oldrup/Lauridsen. It is very nicely recorded at the Studio Hall of the Royal Danish Academy of Music with an ideal balance between the two instruments. There are useful booklet notes.

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