Karin Schaupp & Pavel Steidl reviewed in the Age
Martin Duffy, The Age
March 1, 2013
When Australian guitarist Karin Schaupp first heard the playing of little-known Czech guitar virtuoso Pavel Steidl she immediately recognised a musical soul mate. Their national tour opening Musica Viva’s 2013 concert season is the culmination of a 10-year ambition to perform together.
Embracing modern technology, this semi-staged performance utilises gentle amplification of the instruments and projection of the duo on a large screen. Far from being a distraction, this vision allows a better appreciation of the performers’ hands and the subtle ways in which striking the strings over different parts of the instrument produces a range of colours and effects.
The music is interspersed with semi-scripted narration from both performers that gives a potted history of the development of the guitar and its chief exponents.
Solo performances of Paganini by Steidl and Albeniz by Schaupp highlight differing physical approaches to the instrument – Steidl relaxed, Schaupp more intense – yet when together their sound is in perfect synergy.
The first half is devoted to music of the 19th century from guitarist-composers such as Johann Mertz and Fernando Sor. The pair performs on copies of original instruments, with Schaupp taking the primo parts on a smaller terz guitar tuned a third higher. The duo switch to modern instruments in the second half for a 20th-century repertoire from Spain, Argentina and music by Leos Janacek and Phillip Houghton.