The versatility of the suite form proved well suited to Johann Sebastian Bach in his instrumental works, and the English Suites are no exception. These are distinct from Bach’s other suites with their quasi-improvisatory opening Preludes, and further movements encompassing a wide range of moods and styles from lively dances to the pensive intensity of the slow Sarabandes. The Montenegrin Guitar Duo’s fresh and historically informed performances of these works have been acclaimed as “simply ravishing” (American Record Guide). The Montenegrin Guitar Duo is frequently invited to venues such as the Philharmonia Hall in Saint Petersburg, Manuel de Falla Hall in Madrid, and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. International festivals regularly engage the duo to give recitals, deliver lectures and masterclasses, and adjudicate major competitions. In 2013 their debut album was released by the Montenegrin Music Centre, featuring works by Domeniconi, Piazzolla and Bogdanovic. The first of their two volumes of Bach’s English Suites was released in 2015 and received excellent reviews.
Bach’s keyboard works known as the English Suites offer a series of dance movements which, despite their name, owe more to earlier French and German models. This is the first of two recordings of the complete English Suites arranged for two guitars by the distinguished Montenegrin Guitar Duo. Transcriptions of Bach for solo guitar have been popular since the nineteenth century and the emergence of the guitar duo extends still further the potential for exciting and revelatory performances.
As a collection this is pretty much self-recommending. It assembles Rodrigo's concertos for one (Aranjuez), two (Madrigal) and four (Andaluz) guitars into one place. The playing time is generous and the notes are adequate though it is a pity that the works have not been dated. The sound is close-up and this applies not just to the guitars. The orchestra is very powerfully projected - tantamount to overpowering during climaxes. This is for Rodrigo-ists who prefer intensity and potent drama over chamber intimacy and restraint…
The composer Joaquim Homs Oller (1906-2003), from Barcelona, is surely one of the most important musical personalities of the second half of the twentieth century in Spain. With its quality and beauty, the chamber music with guitar occupies an outstanding place in the artistic output of the Catalan composer. The nine works recorded here, all composed between 1959 and 1992, reveal the maestro’s creative evolution and the depth of his musical language which, in performances by the Salamanca Ensemble and the guitar duo + Que2, take on a new and fascinating dimension.