CD Review – ChromaDuo: Hidden Waters
Tracy Anne Smith and Rob MacDonald
The Raw and the Cooked (Le Cru et le Cuit) – Stephen Goss
Still the Sea – Stephen Goss
Adagio and Fugue – Christopher William Pierce
Three Pieces for Two Guitars – Christopher William Pierce
Niterói – Roland Dyens
Comme des grands – Roland Dyens
The debut recording by ChromaDuo is nothing short of inspirational. Tracy Anne Smith and Rob MacDonald have selected some wonderful new repertoire, most of which was written for the duo, and produced an extremely high quality recording both in production standards and musical execution.
I cannot count the amount of conversations I have had with other guitarists about the rich new repertoire that is so often neglected in favor of the evergreens. So it is to my utter delight that I received a recording completely full of wonderful new music, performed by wonderful musicians.
I have been a fan of Stephen Goss for some time now and I was not disappointed with the two works presented on this CD. “The Raw and the Cooked” has a wonderful sense of playfulness as it quotes a variety of styles and composers at differing levels of obscurity. Made up of nine short movements that can be played in any order, I can see this work become a favorite among guitar duos very quickly. The second work by Goss is of a very different nature and it displays the formidable breadth of this talented composers style. Written as homage to Toru Takemitsu the work explores a variety of guitar sonorities.
I have not come across the works of Christopher William Pierce before, but I am very glad that ChromaDuo has made me keenly aware of such a great composer. Both his works “Adagio and Fuge” and “Three Pieces for Guitar” are absorbing to listen to and I found myself repeating the tracks over and over again. Combining lyricism, a variety of harmonic landscapes, and a strong sense of form and development Pierce has a style unto his own which, refreshingly, sounds very un-guitaristic while at the same time sounding idiomatic on the instrument.
Roland Dyens, who is a much more familiar composer to classical guitarists has once again shown his comprehensive knowledge of the guitar to produce both a very rhythmic “Niterói” and a very nostalgic “Comme des grands”. While being solid works on their own, the compositions did not capture my imagination as much as the preceding works by Goss and Pierce.
The duo has used an enviable coupling of instruments for this recording. The combination of a Dammann and Teryks guitar produces a crystalline, brilliant sound. Both players execute their parts with such finesse that the listener is free to appreciate the quality of the music, and in my opinion, this is one of the highest compliments a musician can get.
I will be recommending this CD to my friends and colleagues, and if you get the chance to listen to it, so should you. Let’s support innovative artists.
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