I received a complimentary copy of this CD for consideration. I agreed to give it a listen and review it.
I don't always take the opportunity to try something completely new and unexpected. But when duo alterity contacted me and offered to send me their CD, I jumped at the chance. I was a flutist back in the day and I have always been fascinated by Classical guitar. So this combination immediately piqued my interest.
duo alterity is comprised of Allison Hughes, flute, and Joseph Van Doran, guitar. These players are accomplished musicians and derive obvious pleasure playing together. They certainly are advocates for this repertoire, immersing themselves fully into the music-making. The recording quality is excellent, presenting the two equally in balance. They are placed in a perfect acoustic, just close enough to be intimate.
Listening to the disc from beginning to end, I must admit to coming away feeling like it was too much for one sitting. After a few days, I listened again in shorter sessions, listening to each piece individually, on separate occasions. This worked much better!
Beginning with Astor Piazzolla's Histoire du Tango, we hear the immediately recognizable flavor associated with this composer. The four contrasting movements make for an enjoyable experience, bringing many smiles along the way. His writing is perfectly suited for this particular instrumentation.
Ned Rorem's Romeo and Juliet, for me, was simply too much of the same thing and not enough in the way of compositional substance, creativity or variety. And the flutist, in particular, does not vary her tonal color sufficiently to hold one's interest. This piece sounds to be the most overtly "modern" and is not the most appealing. However, this may very well have caused me to enjoy the final piece as thoroughly as I did. Phillip Houghton's From the Dreaming brought a most welcomed variety and plethora of tonal colors. Musically, it offered the most unique and interesting originality of the entire concert. This also applies to the orchestration, which fully exploits the myriad colors and playing techniques available from these two instruments. Here these two fine players shone with virtuosity and interpretive skills.
This is a first class production, including excellent, informative liner notes along with superb recorded sound. And the playing is most assuredly excellent. There is no mention that any of these works were commissioned by duo alterity; if that is the case, I would look forward to another CD from them in hopes they might include a new work composed just for them.