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John W. Duarte  : Works for solo guitar Vol3 : CD

DUARTE: Partita Op59; Variations on an Italian Folk Song Op139; Valse Lyrique Op137; Valse en Rondeau Op128;Variations on a theme of Stepan Rak Op100; Three Songs without Words for Carlos Andres op45; Danza Eccentrica Op138; Fantasia and Fugue on Torre Bermeja Op30; Prelude en Arpeges Op62

Flavio Nati

Brilliant Classics: 96658



Here is the third in a series of the works of the much missed composer, John W. Duarte, played by Flavio Nati, and of the nine works on this generously filled CD, 5 of them are premiere recordings.

The opening Partita is in four movements beginning with a rather spiky, no - nonsense Con Bravura that really catches the listener out in several most unexpected places where the tanginess of the harmonic world here is quite unique. There follows a gentle, and sad Mesto e Cantabile, a very jumpy but relatively light – hearted  Scherzoso, and to complete the Partita, a Poco  Agitato which goes through many emotions as it progresses to its final Coda, and towards the end the opening theme of the first movement returns to tie up the ends of the piece successfully. This is full of some of Duarte’s most interesting harmonies, and like much of his work, it could be written by no one else.

The Variations on an Italian Folk Song Op139 has a theme and seven variations, and begins with a melody that many will recognize, coming as it does from another Duarte piece, the Suite Piemontese. As with most variation pieces, the actual variations are widely diverse, but all come from the theme’s characteristic melody intervals, before gaining their own characters. The piece is again in its own sound world, tonal but very different in many places to what you might be expecting.

The two following waltzes, the Valse Lyrique, and the Valse en Rondeau, both in different ways aptly show off Duarte’s melodic writing and pleasant way of writing clever guitar works.

The Variations on a theme of Stepan Rak Op100 has a fascinating history which I will not go into now, but suffice it to say that its birth has a most individual history! It consists of the theme, six variations, (including an Alla Gavotta, and a restless Scherzoso) and a finale with a very quiet and unexpected close.

Three Songs without Words for Carlos Andres Op45 is a celebration of Segovia’s baby son, and therefore the Song of Greeting that opens up the set is slow, melodic and emotional in style, followed by a beautiful Sleep Song with a low voiced melody underneath some sparse but effective chordal harmonies above.The final Roundelay is fast – moving and fun with a slower middle section which mentions one of Duarte’s most famous works, The English Suite.

Danza Eccentrica Op138, is every bit as unusual as you might be expecting from the title, with lots of dissonances, and strange rhythms fighting against one another.

Fantasia and Fugue on Torre Bermeja op30 is unusually not played as such, but rather hinted at in a number of places. The various sections that follow are very different from each other in style and content, and eventually lead to the Fugue that has an impressive conclusion , where the ‘hinted –at’ theme returns once more.

The final work on this recital is Prelude en Arpeges Op62, that is melodic and, as the title states constantly in a flow of arpeggios with a warm and emotive feel to it, and is a fine conclusion to what is yet again , another wonderful CD in this continuing set of the wonderful solo pieces of John W .Duarte, and definitely one to get for anyone who admires his guitar writings.


Chris Dumigan

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