A wealth of music was written and published for the guitar in Argentina and Brazil in the early-to-mid-20th century. This repertoire is as diverse as it is delightful, from folkloric dances with their musical roots in the rural life of the Argentine pampas and the urbane sophistication of the Brazilian valsa to classic choros with their eternal smiles and the exquisite melancholy of the milonga. We believe this music is lesser known than it should be, and part of our intention in making this album was to bring it to new ears.
But we have done more here than simply present the fruits of our musicological researches. While works by Radamés Gnattali and Jorge Cardoso were originally conceived for guitar duet and Alberto Ginastera's "Milonga" is my own fairly traditional arrangement from a solo piano original, we created the majority of the music on this record by engaging with the pieces in creative and somewhat unorthodox ways, taking works that were originally written as solo guitar pieces and making them into duos through two different methods. First, in the case of the works by João Pernambuco, Domingo Semanzato, Baden Powell, Abel Fleury, and the "Lejania" of María Luisa Anido, we left the original solo works unchanged and I composed new duet counterparts to be played with those original solos. I attempted, in composing these new parts, to not only seamlessly imitate the musical style of the original, but also to capture the "guitaristic" signature of the guitarist-composers who wrote the music, imitating each of these remarkable artists' unique approach to the instrument. Second, in the case of the three remaining works by Anido, we divided the notes intended to be played by one guitar between two. This music is so fabulously virtuosic that there is enough material for two guitarists to keep themselves busy.
These processes brought us deeply in touch with the physicality of this music, how it feels to play it, how the guitar itself influenced the music. Here, as elsewhere in highly developed instrumental music, understanding the instrument and the minutiae of its manipulation by masterful players are the keys to unlock a code wherein meaning may be grasped which otherwise would remain hidden. Taking the analogy further, in adapting these pieces as we have, the guitar serves for us as a palimpsest, a scroll which we are simultaneously deciphering and writing fresh upon. This, it seems to me, is a most vital, a most relevant, a most interesting way to engage with a repertoire whose essence cannot be disentangled from the instrument on which its creators played and the way that they played.