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GRAMOPHONE (09/2020)
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Reviewer: Donald Rosenberg

The Cavatina Duo are always on the lookout for ways to expand the repertoire for flute and guitar. For their newest disc, the Spanish flautist Eugenia Moliner and Bosnian guitarist Denis Azabagic´ have turned to Baroque composers who likely would be delighted to hear how fresh and affecting their music sounds in these new contexts. The works by Marin Marais and Georg Philipp Telemann are offered in arrangements that shift the focus from solo vehicles to collaborations, all the while maintaining the original structural integrity and enhancing expressive possibilities.

Marais wrote his Folies d’Espagne for himself, as virtuoso viol player, and continuo, and expected the piece to be performed by other instruments, even – as Alan Thomas mentions in his excellent booklet notes – flute and guitar. The 32 variations encompass a world of atmospheres, subtleties and acrobatics (and states of madness, as the title implies), allowing the interpreters to convey many facets of their artistry. The instruments here are modern, and they serve the music beautifully as sensitively shaped by the Cavatina Duo. Moliner is a flautist of tonal purity and dexterity who brings consummate taste to every phrase in tandem with Azabagic´’s glistening guitar, whose part was realised by Johannes Tappert. The guitar does so much more than provide harmonic support, contributing rhythmic impulses that help the music radiate its special allure.

The seamless rapport between players also benefits Telemann’s Twelve Fantasias, originally for ‘flute without bass’ and here expanded through a guitar part composed by Alan Thomas. These are enchanting and eloquent pieces, each in a different key, and each replete with striking changes in metre and mood. In the more than 50 minutes of music, Moliner and Azabagic´ keep the momentum flowing even as they savour the spectrum of diverse materials. Recorded with intimate clarity in Ganz Hall at Roosevelt University in Chicago, the disc finds the duo at the height of their musical powers.

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