ClevelandClassical: SoloDuo in Concert _ Cleveland, June 2, 2012

Anyone who made it to the third recital of the Classical Guitar Weekend [Mixon Hall, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland OH, USA, June 2nd, 2012] to hear the guitar duo SoloDuo likely would have considered themselves blessed to have attended an unforgettable performance. Comprised of guitarists Lorenzo Micheli (a world-class soloist in his own right) and Matteo Mela, SoloDuo poured forth music of passion, beauty, and refinement from start to finish.


It’s hard to imagine duo-playing on any instrument getting any better than this. SoloDuo’s magic is not due merely to two classical guitarists getting together because of their formidable playing skills, but rather, due to the unlikely occurrence that two accomplished musical soul-mates happened to have met. The best way to describe their ensemble is oneness of heart and mind. Micheli and Mela share a unique musical temperament and vision, and thoroughly know each other’s playing. One gets the impression that these two don’t merely learn scores on their own and then meet to rehearse, but that their rich and supremely unified interpretations are born through many hours playing together; that it is primarily a process of discovery within these many hours, patiently allowing their conceptions to emerge.


While their performance was heart-felt, almost spiritual, they fused this spontaneity with very clear decisions regarding tone, dynamics, phrasing, articulation, and the relative importance between parts in a given section. And these were executed with perfection, along with very clean playing in general. Gorgeous and sometimes magical tone-coloring, beautiful and sensitive shaping of lines, along with a wide pallet of emotions, filled the program. Another notable quality was their remarkable consistency in plucking strings at exactly the same time. Not an easy thing in guitar duets given the plucked string’s quick attack and decay.


SoloDuo scattered throughout the program six of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s 24 prelude and fugues from the Les Guitares Bien Temperées, a kind of homage to Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. A composition like this should help to raise awareness of the breadth of this composer who finds little recognition today outside of the guitar world. Their performance of a transcription of Debussy’s universally-loved Clair de lune was thoroughly enchanting. Perhaps the most remarkable offering of the evening was their performance of the transcription of Bach’s keyboard dance suite, French Suite No. 5, BWV 816. SoloDuo played breathlessly through the first 6 movements allowing a break between each movement of what seemed at the most one second. Their interpretation was intense and varied, lively and natural. Their concluding work, Giuliani’s Variations Concertantes was met with an enthusiastic standing ovation, as was their encore of Piazzolla. —J.F.