Schaupp & Steidl reviewed in Sydney Morning Herald

Light on Beethovens but with a distinctive appeal
February 27, 2013
Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald

DC5309_4371_MVA_Schaup_Steidl_-®Keith_SaundersA young guitarist once explained to me that Fernando Sor was the Beethoven of the guitar. If you know his music, you will realise that this reveals more about the guitar than it does about Sor. Despite being light on Beethovens, the guitar finds its way into most hearts for its intimate expressive qualities, its light clarity and its capacity to carelessly scatter notes around as though lost in thought.

With their mixture of expressive intensity, spontaneity and virtuosic adroitness, Karin Schaupp and Pavel Steidl created a well-balanced mix of discipline and informality. They tossed phrases back and forth, sometimes insouciantly, sometimes emphatically, but always with care and alertness.

To the sentimental pathos of Johann Mertz’s Am Grabe der Geliebten they brought immediate expressive life. Sor’s L’encouragement was graceful when bland and charming when predictable. With music by Paganini, Steidl played with expansive rhythmic freedom and deft brilliance. Two movements from Schubert’s String Quartet No.9, arranged by Julian Bream, galvanised their attention on music that might stand beside Beethoven’s.

In music by Granados and Albeniz, they found a wealth of colour and tonal variety within the instrument’s confined dynamic range. Ross Edwards’s Djanaba was a short agile dance, Janacek’s The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away was full of enigmatic longing, while Phillip Houghton’s Brolga was a series of sketches idiomatically written to exploit hidden colouristic possibilities. Radames Gnattali’s highly coloured portrait of musician and justice fighter, Chiquinha Gonzaga, was piquant and full of life, and of all the music perhaps best exemplified what gives this instrument its distinctive appeal.

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