Brasil Guitar Duo close out three day festival

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Bermuda Guitar Festival, third night May 29

The final night of the Bermuda Guitar Festival featured the Brasil Guitar Duo, João Luiz and Douglas Lora, who are performing at the Bermuda Guitar festival for the third time.

Since their first appearance in Bermuda in 2008 these gifted, unaffected and hard working young men have deservedly become international stars and have transmuted their huge energy and synergies into a mature and masterly performing presence.

  • <b>Brasil Guitar Duo, Joao Luiz and Douglas Lora</b>

    Brasil Guitar Duo, Joao Luiz and Douglas Lora


Bermuda Guitar Festival, third night May 29

The final night of the Bermuda Guitar Festival featured the Brasil Guitar Duo, João Luiz and Douglas Lora, who are performing at the Bermuda Guitar festival for the third time.

Since their first appearance in Bermuda in 2008 these gifted, unaffected and hard working young men have deservedly become international stars and have transmuted their huge energy and synergies into a mature and masterly performing presence.

The programme featured works by Baroque and modern masters as well as contemporary Brazilian composers.

First was "Sete Aneis (Seven Rings)" by the Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti (1947-).

I don't know the cultural reference here, whether it's Tolkein or Nibelung but the piece is a study in contrasts, simultaneously reminiscent of Brouwer and Ravel; a wistful opening morphs into a blazing pizzicato passage at extreme register melting into a lyrical and tender finish.

In 1932 the Jewish-Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) met the guitarist Andrés Segovia and it's likely that he began composing for the guitar as a result; his "The well Tempered Guitars" is (like Bach's) a series of 48 preludes and fugues for guitar duo in every possible key starting with C major, then C sharp major, then D flat major and so on.

The work has only recently come to light and has not yet been published completely.

The duo played the three preludes and fugues in C major, C sharp and E.

Castelnuovo-Tedesco is very much a composer in the Bach idiom and comes over initially as more cerebral than emotive; however these three pieces managed through subtle reference to harsh military music, hymns and staccato effects to convey a sense of impending catastrophe occasioned by rising fascism and militarism.

Next, two original compositions by Douglas Lora Las Casas, Valsa and Posludio (Waltz and Postlude), harp like and very baroque sounding but cleverly exploring the boundaries of the waltz form: when is a waltz not a waltz?

The first half finished with three pieces from Debussy's 1908 composition "The Children's Corner".

The serenade for a doll and The little shepherd are full of lyrical Schumann like moments. However I have a problem with the last piece, "Golliwog's Cakewalk"; technically brilliant it is certainly and brilliantly performed but I can't get over the implied racism, especially the quotations from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.

The second half kicked off with Jean Phillipe Rameau's masterful harpsichord composition Gavotte and seven variations.

The duo have not only done a great job transcribing the piece, they actually added more to it by using seamless crossovers between the lead guitars and using stereo echo effects.

Next came the contemporary Brazilian bossa nova composer "Edu Lobo's Meia-Niote (Midnight)" and "Zanzibar".

Both pieces are heavily percussive, the second has an African flavour; the duo ended both literally with an abrupt but logical bang rather than a drawn out ending.

Egberto Gismonti then made a reappearance with his Don Quixote.

There are many musical treatments of Cervantes' masterpiece starting with Purcell in 1694 through Richard Strauss in 1897 to this one, but this one manages to convey a state of mind with perception wildly at odds with reality through discordancy contrasted with lyricism and romance.

After a masterful performance of Scarlatti's "Sonata K305" the duo finished with a dedication Milt Robinson, the lively and joyful dance, Bate-Coxa (I understand from João that this dance is rather frowned upon in polite society) by the Argentinian Marco Pereira (1950-).

The audience leaped to their feet to give the duo a standing ovation; they obliged us with an encore, the tango "Zita" by the Argentinian composer Ástor Piazolla.

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