Schaupp & Steidl reviewed in Canberra Times

Fluid fingers scale dizzy heights
Canberra Times, Jennifer Gall
2 March 2013

DC5309_4409_MVA_Schaup_Steidl_-®Keith_SaundersThis concert, the second in the Musica Viva tour by guitar duo Karin Schaupp and Pavel Steidl, offered audiences the opportunity to hear and see an intense and affectionate musical partnership in performance.

The guitarists presented a program of short works, interspersed with an informative commentary, beginning with early 19th century works by Mertz, Sor, Paganini and Schubert. After the interval, Enrique Granados’s shimmering, melancholy Danza Espagnola No. 2 opus 37 Oriental introduced 20th century compositions by Albeniz, Edwards, Janacek, Houghton and Gnattali.

Excellent amplification meant that the nuances of the relatively low volume guitars were clearly audible.

The musicians wore discreet radio microphones so their conversation was not affected by the need to bend and grapple with fixed microphone stands. A row of small candle-like footlights in combination with the well-managed sound supported the intimate atmosphere of the concert, and as the musicians relaxed, the conversation became less restrained by the script. As the tour progresses, the repartee and the music should become more spontaneous and exciting as the approach to the repertoire is further integrated into the friendship.

There is room in the program for another solo for each guitarist to create contrast with the dense textures of the duo pieces and to showcase the talents of these fine musicians.

Steidl flung himself into Paganini’s Minuetto Che va chiarmando Dida, effortlessly scaling and descending impossibly treacherous ladders, devilishly constructed by the Master, and twining his signature into the piece with witty gestures.

Schaupp stole the evening with her performance of Torre Bermeja (The Red Tower) by Isaac Albeniz.

Her subtle dynamics and skilful management of the tempo emphasised the mesmerising quality of the rapid accompaniment figures flickering and licking gently like small flames under the melody.

Chiquinha Gonzaga from Gnattali’s 1981 arrangement of Suite Retratos was a fitting finale, the two guitars playing as one instrument, each musician sending the rhythmic thread flying through the emerging fabric of sound as required by the composer.

Audiences will be hoping that this is the first of many tours for Karin Schaupp and Pavel Steidl.


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